The Pacific Flyway receives most of its waterfowl from the western United States and Canada, with the majority of the region's ducks and geese coming from the Prairie Pothole Region, Western Boreal Forest, and Arctic. In 2013, an estimated 4.5 million breeding ducks were surveyed across the grasslands and parklands of southern Alberta—a level statistically similar to last year's estimate and the long-term average. Among individual species, populations of mallards, gadwalls, pintails, American wigeon, green-winged teal, blue-winged teal, shovelers, and redheads were similar to last year, while scaup and canvasbacks decreased.
The total breeding duck estimate in the traditional survey area was 45.6 million birds, a slight decrease from last year's total but tied with the previous record set in 2011.
DU Canada Conservation Programs Specialist Ian McFarlane reports that abundant precipitation created productive habitat conditions for breeding waterfowl across southern Alberta this spring and summer.
"Healthy upland cover growth and a delayed hay harvest again likely resulted in good nest success. Our field staff have reported numerous brood sightings, and brood survival is anticipated to be very good as a result of good to excellent wetland conditions," McFarlane says.
Moving north, in Alaska and the Yukon Territory, total breeding ducks decreased 26 percent from the previous year's estimate and were 11 percent below the long-term average. Across the parklands and Boreal Forest of central and northern Alberta, northeastern British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories, breeding duck numbers were similar to the 2012 estimate and were 16 percent above the long-term average.
DU Canada Waterbird Program Coordinator Glenn Mack reports that this appears to have been a good year for waterfowl production in the Western Boreal Forest, a key breeding ground for American wigeon, scaup, green-winged teal, and several other waterfowl species. "Above-normal precipitation fell in June and July, which helped maintain good to excellent wetland conditions in many areas," Mack says. "Mallards and other early nesters appear to have had good nest success in areas of boreal Alberta and Manitoba where brood surveys were conducted. Other species, such as wigeon and ring-necked ducks, also appear to have had a successful year in these areas."
Conversely, in the western contiguous United States, persistent drought has taken a toll on wetlands in many areas. In California, an estimated 451,000 breeding ducks were surveyed in 2013—a 15 percent decrease from the previous year and 23 percent below the long-term average. In Washington and Oregon, breeding duck numbers were similar to last year's estimates.
The outlook for Pacific Flyway goose populations is mixed. Breeding success among Arctic nesting geese is influenced by the timing of the spring thaw as well as by weather and habitat conditions during the nesting and brood-rearing periods. Surveys conducted in coastal Alaska suggested that white-fronted geese, cackling geese, and Pacific brant had decreased breeding success this year. In contrast, Ross's geese and Pacific Population Canada geese were expected to have above-average production.
Forecast by Flyway:
Pacific Flyway | Central Flyway | Mississippi Flyway | Atlantic Flyway