Field Reports: 2012 Spring Habitat Conditions

Significant rainfall will be needed to maintain or improve wetland habitats in many important waterfowl breeding areas

by DU Field Biologists 

Breeding habitat conditions vary throghout much of U.S. and Canada. Ducks Unlimited biolgists in these regions have provided a brief overview for each Canadian Province and specific regions in the U.S. To get up-to-date habitat conditions reports, visit the DU Migration Map.

1. BRITISH COLUMBIA Variable winter precipitation in this province has produced wetland conditions ranging from excellent along the coast to fair in the south-central interior and Peace parklands. 

2. ALBERTA With below-average winter snowfall and limited runoff to recharge temporary and seasonal wetlands, habitat conditions are generally poor for breeding waterfowl across the prairie and southern parklands of Alberta. Water is more plentiful in the northern parklands and boreal forest, where wetland conditions are rated fair.  

3. SASKATCHEWAN Mild, dry weather also prevailed across much of Saskatchewan this winter, resulting in a below-average snowpack and limited spring runoff in many areas. While larger wetland basins still have carryover water from last year, temporary and seasonal wetlands will be in short supply without substantial spring rainfall. Overall, wetland conditions range from poor across the prairie and parklands to good in the boreal forest.  

4. MANITOBA Dry conditions exist in southwestern Manitoba's pothole country, where spring rainfall will be required to recharge small wetlands that support many breeding ducks. Overall, habitat conditions range from fair in the southwest to good in the central parklands and boreal forest.  

5. ONTARIO Despite variable winter snowfall, wetland conditions are generally good throughout this province, but more spring precipitation will be needed to maintain wetlands in many areas, especially in the south.

6. QUÉBEC Although winter was mild and dry, wetland habitats in this province remain in good shape, setting the stage for a typical breeding effort.

7. ATLANTIC CANADA Waterfowl returned early to the Atlantic provinces ths spring following an unusually mild winter. While many areas had below-average runoff, water levels should be sufficient to support breeding waterfowl. 

8. NORTH-CENTRAL U.S. Above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation have taken a toll on wetland habitats across the Great Plains states. Wetland conditions remain good in the Missouri Coteau of central North Dakota, northeastern Montana, and northern South Dakota. Fair habitat is present in much of Montana and Iowa. Wetland conditions in the eastern Dakotas and Minnesota are generally poor. 


9. GREAT LAKES AND NORTHEASTERN U.S. Near-average winter precipitation occurred in Wisconsin and Michigan, while Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio received above-average precipitation. In the northeastern U.S., most of this region received average or above-average winter precipitation. Overall, habitat conditions are good across both regions.



10. WESTERN U.S. In the Central Valley of California, waterfowl habitat conditions range from fair in the Sacramento Valley to poor in the San Joaquin. Across the Intermountain West, habitat conditions range from good in central Oregon and Washington to poor in southern Utah, Nevada, and northern Arizona. In Alaska, the wetland habitat outlook is very good along the coast and excellent in the interior.