DU Mobile Apps
Banding Together for Waterfowl

Breeding Grounds Surveys: It's a Roller Coaster

May 17, 2014 - Eastern and Northern Ontario
By Nick Wirwa, USFWS, Eastern and Northern Ontario

Forested terrain and lake habitat throughout southeast Ontario and southern Quebec. Photo by Nick Wirwa, USFWS

Leaving the flat, agricultural terrain of Stratum 54, we are finally getting into what I had imagined in this part of the world. As we fly over pristine lakes, beaver ponds, and beautiful winding rivers shaped by the rolling terrain, I am still surprised by its beauty over every corner and hill top. While attempting to make close passes near the water to get the best advantage identifying a bird, there is always the next hilltop awaiting us on the other side of the lake. After a quick dip we are back up climbing again, nose up to the sky to avoid the next peak. Who needs to pay good money to be entertained at Six Flags, when you can fly with Steve?! Like a child on a family road trip vacation, I find there is always something new and surprising waiting over every hill. While I am completely focused on counting waterfowl and helping Steve watch for obstacles, I do find myself getting caught up in the wonder and beauty of nature and this earth. We are beginning to get into much more of the back country. With the larger expanses of forests and undeveloped lands, we are starting to observe larger wildlife as well, such as bear and moose—just another cool part of getting to do what we do. Most of the lakes in this area are deep and permanent. These wetlands provide habitat for many diving ducks and sea ducks. While I was hoping to see many dabbling ducks, I am getting to sharpen my skills in identifying species like common mergansers, bufflehead, long-tailed ducks, and common loons. I was also expecting to see more black ducks, but I am hopeful as we progress further north and east they will become more common. Ontario is a beautiful province, and I look forward to seeing what Quebec has to offer.

Black Douglas Lake, White Pines Resort, Ontario. Photo by Nick Wirwa, USFWS

Get more information about the 2014 BPOP Survey and other waterfowl surveys at Flyways.us

Find more breeding waterfowl and habitat updates on the DU Habitat Map