Breeding Grounds Survey: Status Update from Stratum 51

May 30, 2014 - Eastern and Northern Ontario
By Nick Wirwa, USFWS biologist, Eastern and Northern Ontario

As we are nearing the end of our survey I look back and think about the territory we have covered. So far we have flown over 8,000 miles of terrain throughout southern Ontario and Quebec.

We are coming to the end of Stratum 51, which is located just south of James Bay and north of Lake Huron. The landscape is so variable. The rolling terrain is composed of lake after lake, one flowing into the other, with many of them influenced by beaver dams. The flatter terrain provides depressional wetlands surrounded by zones of emergent vegetation. These zones of vegetation, when flooded, provide more areas for waterfowl to nest, forage, and escape from predators. In addition, when wetlands are flooded outside the inner zone of vegetation this produces hemi-marsh conditions, which are proven to produce the best habitat availably for a larger suite of waterfowl species. During low water and droughts years, water will be isolated in the lower areas of these wetlands, not extending into the vegetation. These conditions do not provide adequate protection, food resources, or nesting cover for waterfowl, leading to much lower nest success. However, from our observations so far, wetlands this year appear to be in excellent condition.

Southern Ontario and Quebec survey crew. Photo by Craig and Linda Williams, Camp Anjigami

Wetland conditions look good in Stratum 51 (southern Ontario). Photo by Nick Wirwa, USFWS

Get more information about the 2014 BPOP Survey and other waterfowl surveys at

Find more breeding waterfowl and habitat updates on the DU Habitat Map