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Banding Together for Waterfowl

2014 Fall and Winter Habitat Conditions in Canada 

Conditions potentially favorable throughout Canada 
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Western Boreal Forest

Throughout the region, habitat conditions remain good, with little change observed since the end of October.  Most areas experienced unseasonably cold temperatures and above-average snowfall in November and December, and January weather conditions were near normal.  If the current trend continues, spring habitat conditions should be very favorable for breeding waterfowl.


After a late-arriving fall, snow cover didn't occur until very late in October in the north and in early November in the south.  A cold November was followed by a very snowy December, with above-average snow accumulations in the valleys but average amounts in the mountains.  January has been quite warm, with lots of melting occurring.

There have been reports of more overwintering birds in open water areas near Whitehorse than in past years.  The area's habitat conditions are very good, while the rest of the territory is experiencing good conditions.

Northwest Territories

Similar to last year, winter arrived in November with the onset of colder-than-average temperatures and below-normal snowfall.  The trend continued into December, with temperatures remaining near -40 C for about two weeks and dipping as low as -50 C on two consecutive days.  The New Year then ushered in above-seasonal temperatures and slightly-above-average precipitation.  You know it has been cold when -18 C feels like t-shirt weather!  
Wetlands were in good condition going into the winter, and are expected to remain that way when spring arrives.

Northeast British Columbia

Below-normal temperatures and above-average snowfall should improve wetland conditions as spring approaches.

Boreal Alberta

Fall turned to winter rather quickly this year.  As temperatures plummeted and snow fell, migrating waterfowl headed south sooner than most waterfowl enthusiasts would have like, but there were still ample opportunities to enjoy the spectacle of large concentrations of ducks and geese in boreal wetlands.

November and December temperatures were colder than normal, while snowfall was above average.  The opposite has occurred in January, and the unseasonable temperatures have caused the snowpack to settle.  However, given the amount of snow remaining on the ground, habitat conditions should be favourable for returning waterfowl.

Boreal Saskatchewan

The region has experienced below-normal temperatures since the Polar Vortex clamped down.  After a November of good wetland conditions, winter precipitation has been above average, so habitat conditions remain favourable.  They should remain that way when spring finally arrives.

Boreal Manitoba

November and December were colder than average but soil moisture was well above average prior to the extended cold period.  In November, the area near The Pas received 260 per cent of normal precipitation.  This was mainly in the form of snow as about 67cm (2 feet) accumulated.  Conversely, December saw 5 per cent less precipitation than normal but was significantly colder than average (by 7.9 C).  

So far, January temperatures have been near average, and about 32.5 mm of precipitation (twice the monthly average) has fallen.  Rain fell on January 15, which increased local Snow Water Equivalent values.  Overall, there is currently about 45 cm of snow on the ground, which is a third more than average for this time of year. Consequently, spring habitat conditions should be good throughout the region and very good around the Saskatchewan River Delta near the Pas.

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