What's the bottom line? Our research suggests that to meet the energetic demands of female ducks during spring migration, managers should provide a variety of shallow- and deep-water wetlands rich in both seeds and invertebrates sought by feeding hens. As you move north up the flyway, a greater emphasis should be placed on invertebrate production to meet the dietary preferences and needs of female ducks. Conservation practices and policies that protect existing habitat and improve water quality in wetlands, especially in the Upper Midwest, will help provide a more bountiful spring buffet for migrating waterfowl. And in doing so, we can help ensure that waterfowl will have a better chance of successfully nesting and raising young when they return to the breeding grounds later in spring.
Black Duck Migration Study Completed
Spring migration patterns and ties between breeding and wintering grounds were the focus of a parallel study on black ducks conducted by Ducks Unlimited and partners in the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways. In this research project, 68 hen black ducks were trapped and fitted with satellite transmitters across Ohio, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. These birds were then monitored throughout their annual cycle to determine their migration routes and breeding and wintering areas.
This work confirmed that most black ducks wintering east of the Chesapeake Bay breed in eastern Quebec and the Maritime Provinces, while black ducks that winter to the west of the bay breed farther inland, primarily in Ontario. During the winter, most hens remained close to their trapping location, indicating that the birds are faithful to particular wintering areas. The study also found that for black ducks, spring migration is more protracted, and the birds make more stops while migrating in spring than in fall. These results further support the need to provide high-quality spring migration habitat where black ducks and other waterfowl can acquire nutrients as they move north to breed.
Partners in Research
Ducks Unlimited would like to thank the following partners for their support of important research in the Mississippi and Atlantic flyways:
- Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes Joint Venture–USFWS
- Black Duck Joint Venture–USFWS
- Ohio Division of Wildlife
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources
- Illinois Natural History Survey
- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
- Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
- Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
- New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife
- Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network
- Suffolk County Department of Parks
- Cape May National Wildlife Refuge
- Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
- Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
- Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge
- The Ohio State University
- Southern Illinois University
- University of Delaware
- Winous Point Marsh Conservancy
- The Nature Conservancy
- Art and Gail Aikin
- Timothy T. Brown Sr.
- The Bruning Foundation
- Camp Fire Conservation Fund Inc.
- The Beirne Carter Foundation
- Dolores and James* Chadwick Jr.
- E. Tyree Chappell
- Ty Chappell Jr.
- Beverley L. and Susan B. Crump
- Raymond T. Dalio
- Bill and Sarah D'Alonzo
- Lawrence and Laurie Davis
- Christel DeHaan Family Foundation
- Leslie and Ann Disharoon
- The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation
- The Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation
- Susan and Charles Grigg Jr.
- B. Hunt and Mary Scott Gunter
- Christopher D. Hall
- Jean and Richard Hudson Jr.
- Maryann and James Jankowski Sr.
- K. Wayne and Linda D. Jarman
- John and Elaine Kanas Family Foundation
- E. Polk Kellam Jr.
- Carrington King and Corie King
- Kathleen and Theodore Knapp III
- James D. and Susan J. Konkel
- Michael and Suzanne Lamberth
- Robert Landberg
- Charles S. Luck IV
- Frank M. Lusk Jr.
- Libby and M. Collins McNeill IV
- Gayle and Henry Miller IV
- New Market Services Corporation
- North Fork Bank
- Moses D. Nunnally Jr. Charitable Lead Trust
- Tommy O'Connor III
- Julian and Haley Ottley
- Jill Panos
- George G. Phillips Jr.
- James and Patti Pike
- C. F. Sauer III
- Bradford B. Sauer
- David H. Smith
- Charles L. Stelling
- Jane and Joe Sufczynski
- Remy W. Trafelet
- Rob and Marilyn Walker
- Waterfowl Research Foundation Inc.
- Hope and David Welles Jr.
- Darrin and Kim Westenfeld
- Peter and Erika Wettergreen
- James C. Wheat III
- George P. Wigginton IV
- Eddie and Margaret Wright
- Tina Yerkes
- The Young Family Foundation