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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Early Fall Habitat Conditions in Canada

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British Columbia

Although warm and dry weather has dominated the coast for the last few weeks, summer is now coming to an end. These dry conditions have had little effect on river and wetland levels, which were above normal thanks to the wet, cool spring. Most wetlands are at normal levels, and are ready for migrating waterfowl that travel along the Pacific Flyway. Farmers in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island are harvesting their crops and planting winter cover crops that will provide food for wintering waterfowl. Many sea ducks are completing their moult off the Fraser River Delta, and are settling into their local wintering sites.

In the central Interior, weather conditions became much dryer and warmer since early August, and precipitation levels were about half of normal. However, wetland water levels were mostly stable at August levels, and habitat conditions are average overall. Migrant ducks have been showing up for the last three weeks, and wetlands are busy with birds again. However, fall flight numbers are expected to be below average due to decreased production in local wetlands and northern areas.

Late summer was relatively dry and warm in the southern and southeast Interior. Wetland conditions are slightly below the long-term average in southern areas, while southeast wetlands are in good shape.

In the Peace region, precipitation levels tailed off in the latter part of the summer, but conditions are still above average for this time of year thanks to heavy summer rains. The agricultural harvest is late by about a month, but crop quantities are higher than they have been in several years. Brood production was lower this year than in 2010. This is likely due to a rapid rise in water levels after heavy rains, which occurred while many ducks, particularly divers, were in the late stages of nest incubation. Surveys also indicated fewer breeding pairs, and the fall flight is not expected to be large. Birds are beginning to stage. There have been no significant northerly weather systems driving migrants south to date, and they are still dispersed across the landscape.

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