Completing the Cycle Initiative

Conserving and restoring Atlantic Flyway habitat

Waterfowl hunters mark time based on where the ducks are: wintering in the South, winging to the breeding grounds, or raising broods across the northern climes. As they move with the seasons, these birds require a wide variety of habitats over broad geographical areas to survive and flourish. Ducks Unlimited's Completing the Cycle Initiative addresses the needs of Atlantic Flyway waterfowl throughout their life cycle. This holistic approach will focus on the most important factors that limit waterfowl populations, ensuring that the landscape can support and sustain birds in a healthy condition throughout the year so they can "complete the cycle" and return to the breeding grounds to successfully reproduce.

 In four centuries of human population growth and activity on the East Coast, there has been staggering wetland habitat loss and degradation—nearly 7 million acres from Maryland to Maine. Unfortunately, these threats and losses continue today, and things are no better on the Canadian side of the border, where more than 72 percent of wetlands have been converted to other uses in southern Ontario.

Thirty-four waterfowl species either migrate through or winter in the Completing the Cycle Initiative area, most notably Atlantic brant; North Atlantic, Southern James Bay and Atlantic populations of Canada geese; American black ducks; black scoters; and canvasbacks. This area supports an estimated 7.6 million breeding waterfowl, 4 to 5 million migrating waterfowl, and more than 2.7 million wintering waterfowl. From north to south, DU recognizes the importance of protecting remaining habitats and strategically restoring lost or degraded ones for the benefit of these vast populations of birds.

Resources Beyond Waterfowl

The Completing the Cycle Initiative area is home to more than just waterfowl and wetlands.The region holds vast human, political, and philanthropic capital, accounting for 21 percent of the U.S. population and 12 percent of Ducks Unlimited members nationwide. The waterfowling tradition is strong within the region, which is home to more than 10 percent of America's active waterfowl hunters and DU's mission-critical Major Sponsors.

Residents of the Completing the Cycle Initiative area understand the impact this landscape has on Atlantic Flyway waterfowl throughout their life cycle, and the vast numbers of birds affected. With your help, DU will ensure a strong future for this region and the waterfowl we all enjoy.

DU's Five-Year Plan for Completing the Cycle

Ducks Unlimited is seeking to raise $3.8 million in philanthropic funds from generous donors like you to achieve our conservation goals in the Completing the Cycle Initiative area. Funding derived from this initiative enables Ducks Unlimited to conduct important science, public policy, and outreach efforts, as well as conserving the breeding habitats important to waterfowl that utilize this landscape. DU's research and evaluation efforts are the foundation upon which our direct conservation programs and our policy and outreach work are based.

Conservation work under the Completing the Cycle Initiative will focus on conserving wetlands in critical areas within the region that offer the best opportunities to provide a sustainable future for waterfowl, as well as cleaner water. Within the United States, this will include the protection and restoration of key wetlands and grasslands for breeding, wintering, and staging waterfowl. Within Canada, the focus will be on similar habitats for breeding and migrating waterfowl, as well as the maintenance of infrastructure on previously restored wetlands.

Completing the Cycle Initiative at a Glance

Five-year Goals (FY 2012-16)
Habitat Delivery: 7,135 acres
Public Revenue: $14.4 million
Philanthropic Revenue: $3.8 million
Total Revenue Goal: $18.2 million

Initiative States and Provinces:
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island

Conservation Focus:
Completing the Cycle is a comprehensive initiative that includes on the-ground conservation, as well as public policies that support healthy wetlands, research, and outreach.

Cross-border Conservation



Migratory waterfowl are a shared continental resource and know no borders. Thus, DU must work across North America to ensure a bright future for waterfowl and the people who enjoy them. By contributing to DU's Completing the Cycle Initiative, you will be supporting critical waterfowl habitat conservation in the Completing the Cycle Initiative area, as well as priority breeding grounds in the Prairie Pothole Region, Western Boreal Forest, and lower Great Lakes , where the vast majority of waterfowl are produced prior to making their way south each fall.

Help DU Complete the Cycle for Atlantic Flyway Waterfowl

Your gift to Ducks Unlimited is invaluable, and it is truly the greatest contribution you can make to secure the future of wetlands and waterfowl. Every dollar you give to Ducks Unlimited is leveraged multiple times to create a conservation impact far beyond your initial gift. In addition, we invest at least 80 cents of every dollar received in our conservation mission. Start making a difference right now for waterfowl, outdoorsmen, and future generations of wildlife and people by making your gift to DU's Completing the Cycle Initiative. Help conserve more than 7,000 acres of key habitats in the Atlantic Flyway with your gift today.

Don't wait.

Call DU at (734) 623-2000 today to speak with fundraising staff in your area.

Make an online gift.

Download a printable PDF for this initiative