"They're not here yet," said Brian Stemper, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service based at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge, referring to the massive number of canvasbacks
he sees each year in this region. Near Halloween, more than 50 percent of the continental canvasback population will gather along the river bordering Minnesota
, and Iowa
before the birds continue southward to their primary wintering grounds on Chesapeake Bay and Louisiana's
Catahoula Lake and Gulf Coast. And the mallards? They trail behind the canvasbacks, usually not appearing until the second or third week of November.
However, there are still plenty of ducks on the upper Mississippi
River right now, and more waterfowl will be on the way with the passage of a strong cold front. "We've had a good many wood ducks and teal coming through the last couple of weeks," Stemper said, "and a lot of folks have already been able to shoot some ducks."
Temperatures have been warm, but a strong cold front has brought colder weather and north winds. "With this weather, we'll see a lot more divers start to arrive, with some gadwalls
also showing up," Stemper added. "The big push will be soon. Very soon."
To view the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge's fall waterfowl surveys, go to http://www.fws.gov/midwest/uppermississippiriver/umrwf11.html
—Jeff Kurrus, field editor