Late-Spring 2020 Habitat Outlook

An overview of wetland conditions across key waterfowl breeding areas

© Annie Bischof

By DU Field Biologists

1. BRITISH COLUMBIA

Spring has been warm, with average rainfall across much of the province. Wetlands remain at good levels, providing favorable conditions for breeding waterfowl.

2. ALBERTA

Following an early runoff, wetlands on the prairies receded rapidly with the onset of warm, dry weather. In the parklands, cooler temperatures and above-average runoff provided favorable conditions for breeding waterfowl. Recent rainfall has helped maintain water levels in many areas.

3. SASKATCHEWAN

In the south, waterfowl habitats continue to suffer from below-average precipitation. Wetland conditions improve to the north in the parklands, where spring runoff helped maintain water levels. Observations of lone drakes indicated nesting was well under way by mid-May.

4. MANITOBA

Mallards and northern pintails began arriving in late March, and most waterfowl species were present in the province by late April. Seasonal wetland basins are starting to dry out in the southwest, but larger wetlands are still holding water from last year’s wet fall.

5. ONTARIO

Despite cool spring weather, waterfowl breeding efforts appeared to be on schedule in the south with the first mallard broods observed in early May. Recent rainfall should maintain good wetland conditions through the breeding period.

6. QUEBEC

A gradual runoff produced little spring flooding in this province, providing favorable habitat conditions for breeding waterfowl. Observations by field staff indicate nesting was under way in early May.

7. ATLANTIC CANADA

Water levels are relatively high and are expected to remain at good levels through the breeding season. Conditions were favorable for early nesters this spring, and broods of American black ducks, mallards, wood ducks, and Canada geese were observed in May.

8. NORTH-CENTRAL US

Following last year’s exceptionally wet fall, wetland conditions were promising across the US Prairie Pothole Region this spring, especially in eastern South Dakota and southeast North Dakota, which had above-average snowpack this winter. Following several weeks with little or no precipitation, however, western portions of the region are beginning to dry out and rainfall is needed to maintain wetland conditions in many areas.

9. GREAT LAKES AND NORTHEASTERN US

Persistent and timely precipitation has kept moisture deficits at bay across much of the northeast and Great Lakes, providing ample nesting and renesting opportunities and good brood-rearing habitat for waterfowl.

10. WESTERN US

Drought has returned to much of the western United States, adversely affecting waterfowl habitats in many areas. In Alaska, wetland conditions are good to excellent for breeding waterfowl.

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