BISMARCK, N.D. – May 10, 2013 – As the breeding season for ducks in the Prairie Pothole Region gets into full swing, the world will be celebrating International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) on Saturday, May 11. As IMBD draws near, Ducks Unlimited says habitat conditions in the continent’s “Duck Factory” are above average.
“Late snows have melted to refill wetlands, and we expect to see plenty of breeding ducks and waterbirds with the conditions we have,” said Dr. Johann Walker, DU director of conservation planning at the Great Plains Regional Office in Bismarck.
The PPR, which extends from South Dakota to Saskatchewan, produces up to 70 percent of the continent’s ducks. The extensive wetlands and intact grasslands provide safe nesting habitat for many different species of migratory birds. Walker says grassland songbirds, shorebirds and raptors have also established territories and are beginning to lay eggs.
“I’m expecting the first pintails and mallards to start nesting a couple of weeks later than usual because of the late spring,” Walker said.
The PPR’s small, seasonal wetlands are the key to the productivity of this region for breeding ducks. These wetlands provide abundant protein-rich invertebrate foods that female ducks need to produce a clutch of eggs and are ducklings’ primary food. Last year’s wetland conditions were excellent across much of the PPR, resulting in a record breeding duck population of 48.6 million.
Walker cautions that the sustainability of today’s healthy waterfowl populations depends on intact wetlands and secure grassland habitat for nesting in the future. “DU remains concerned about wetland drainage and the loss of native prairie and Conservation Reserve Program grassland that continues in the PPR,” he said.
IMBD is an invitation to celebrate the birds arriving in your community and support migratory bird conservation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website provides many ways people can celebrate International Migratory Bird Day. The site also has links to bird conservation plans.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org
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Becky Jones Mahlum