Very good spring waterfowl pairing habitat conditions have continued, and brood-rearing habitats are very good throughout the province.
Warm temperatures arrived in the latter part of June, accelerating the growth of plants and invertebrates, which bodes well for developing broods. Semi-permanent and permanent wetlands are still at or near flooding capacity, with beaver populations and road floodings at an all time high in many areas. USFWS and CWS assessments indicate that breeding waterfowl habitats are in much better condition this year than they were in 2010.
According to the Canadian Hydrographic Service of Environment Canada, water levels throughout the Lower Great Lakes are about average for this time of year. Lakes Erie and Ontario are slightly above the long-term average, while lakes Superior and Michigan are somewhat below the long-term average.
Southern James Bay and Mississippi populations of Canada geese appear to have had a good hatch this year.
Results from the USFWS/CWS survey stratum that includes western Ontario indicate that there has been a 13 per cent increase in duck breeding populations over last year. Scaup (lesser and greater), a species of concern, increased by 76 per cent.
Waterfowl breeding surveys of Eastern Canada report that mallard populations are 13 percent higher this year than in 2011, with no significant changes reported for other species.
Field reports indicate that a good initial breeding effort was made by many waterfowl species, with some typical renesting due to predation and nest flooding. Wetlands and water levels are relatively high and extensive throughout Ontario, so broods are widely distributed across the wetland base. Later this summer, results from banding exercises should provide more insight into actual production outcomes. Overall, 2011 waterfowl production is expected to be above average this year.