Late-Spring Habitat Outlook 2021

An overview of wetland conditions across key waterfowl breeding areas

By DU Field Biologists

1. BRITISH COLUMBIA

In the interior and mountains, many wetlands are beginning to show the effects of unusually warm, dry weather, and more precipitation will be needed to maintain waterfowl habitats through the breeding period.  

2. ALBERTA

The prairies of Alberta are dry after receiving little runoff and precipitation this spring. Most seasonal wetlands are parched, and semipermanent wetlands continue to draw down. Habitat conditions are similar in the parklands, where localized precipitation has recharged wetland basins in a few areas.  

3. SASKATCHEWAN

With little or no runoff and below-average spring precipitation, wetland conditions have continued to deteriorate in this province. Much-needed rainfall in late May improved soil moisture in some areas, but more precipitation will be needed to recharge wetlands. 

4. MANITOBA

Wetland conditions are very poor across Manitoba’s pothole country, with almost all seasonal wetlands completely dry. Semipermanent basins have reduced water levels, and even these deeper wetlands have gone dry in some areas. As in the other prairie provinces, many waterfowl appear to have pushed north into the Boreal Forest.

5. ONTARIO

Wetland conditions are average to good across most of this province. Waterfowl breeding efforts appear to be right on schedule, and the first broods appeared in early May. 

6. QUEBEC 

Although spring was warmer and drier than average, wetlands remain at good levels. In the south, many Canada goose broods have already hatched, and the first duck broods are likely not far behind. 

7. ATLANTIC CANADA

Precipitation and temperatures were near average this spring, and water levels are back to normal following a dry fall. With continued favorable weather, the outlook for breeding waterfowl is good.

8. NORTH-CENTRAL US

Extreme drought continues across most of the US Prairie Pothole Region. Wetland conditions are poor in North Dakota and northeastern Montana and only slightly better in eastern South Dakota, where isolated pockets of near-average wetland habitat exist.

9. GREAT LAKES AND NORTHEASTERN US

Timely precipitation has reduced the severity and prevalence of dry conditions across the northeast and Great Lakes. Additional rainfall will be needed to bolster waterfowl renesting efforts and improve brood-rearing habitats in many areas.

10. WESTERN US

Extreme drought prevails across California and many other western states, which are currently facing unprecedented water shortages. A bright spot is Alaska, where wetland conditions are in great shape across most of the state.