Field Reports: Spring Habitat Conditions

Abundant winter precipitation has set the stage for improved wetland conditions on many key waterfowl breeding areas 

by DU Field Biologists 

With the exception of the southern interior, British Columbia received average to above-average precipitation over winter. Mountain runoff is expected to produce generally good wetland conditions along the coast and in the central interior and north, while fair wetland conditions are expected in the south-central interior.   

2. ALBERTA Abundant winter and spring snowfall has improved prospects for breeding waterfowl in many areas of Alberta. Given the good frost seal observed in the fall of 2010, and an average to above-average snow pack this winter, spring wetland conditions are expected to be good throughout most of this province's prairie and parkland regions. 

3. SASKATCHEWAN Most wetlands across southern Saskatchewan were full going into fall, and winter snowfall was above normal across most of the prairie and parkland regions. Temperatures remained below normal throughout March, and runoff was only beginning in early April. All of these factors should result in good to excellent wetland conditions this spring across most of this province. 

4. MANITOBA Despite some early runoff in the south, snow cover remained in late March across much of the province, especially in wetlands, ditches, wooded areas, and grasslands. A good snow pack, coupled with the wet conditions of last fall, was expected to produce substantial runoff and good to excellent wetland conditions for breeding waterfowl throughout most of this province. 

5. ONTARIO Typical winter snowfall and a continuous frost seal ensured good runoff in the south, and many small wetlands were ice free in this region by late March. Snow cover was still present in northern Ontario, but was quickly melting with rising spring temperatures and rainfall. Overall, wetland habitats should be in good shape this spring for breeding waterfowl throughout most of this province. 

6. QUÉBEC While total winter snowfall was below average in many areas, Québec has received sufficient precipitation to ensure good spring wetland conditions. With favorable weather, the outlook is generally bright for breeding waterfowl here. 

7. ATLANTIC CANADA Wetland conditions are also generally good across New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. Overall, an average spring is expected, with normal water levels maintained in DU projects and many spring seasonal wetlands available for migrating and breeding waterfowl.

8. NORTH-CENTRAL U.S. A wet fall across the northern plains was followed by frequent winter snowfall. In early April, many wetlands were still frozen and significant snow cover remained across much of North Dakota, Montana, and Minnesota. Following the spring runoff, excellent wetland conditions are expected to greet waterfowl returning to the U.S. Prairie Pothole Region, and the prospects are generally good for waterfowl production in the Great Plains states this year. 

9. WESTERN U.S. Heavy winter precipitation has greatly improved waterfowl habitat across much of the West. Wetland conditions are now rated good to excellent across this region, including in the Central Valley of California, Klamath Basin, Great Salt Lake, southern Idaho, and eastern Oregon and Washington. In Alaska, the outlook for waterfowl habitat is good prior to the spring thaw.