Spring arrived very late on the Canadian prairies, which significantly delayed the arrival of all waterfowl. The slow melt, coupled with the dry soil conditions from last year, hastened any major flooding events but the good snowpack resulted in favorable wetland conditions for arriving birds.
Once arrived, the birds quickly settled and transitioned to territorial behavior, and nesting quickly followed. Although significantly delayed, mallards quickly showed signs of nesting by May 2. The observation of small bachelor groups soon followed, indicating a widespread initiation. Late-nesting birds such as blue-winged teal initiated nests around the third week in May.
Resident Canada goose nesting was also significantly delayed, and their hatch is expected to be approximately two weeks later than usual. Wetland conditions are favorable throughout the southwest breeding range, but areas lacking spring precipitation are feeling the effects of those dry soil conditions.
Most ephemeral and seasonal wetland basins are now dry. Temporary and semi-permanent basins are full, and wetlands located in larger watersheds are flooded just beyond the cattails. Additional rainfall will be required to maintain these conditions for renesting and brood-rearing birds.
Upland conditions are changing rapidly with the recent above-seasonal-warm trend. Grasslands are quickly responding to this change, which will result in good cover for later-nesting birds. If haying is not delayed, this could have an impact on nesting birds affected by the late spring.
Crop seeding has also been delayed but the favorable late-May conditions have allowed producers to get a quick jump on seeding.