Migration Alert: Wet Conditions Contributing to Scattered Birds in New York

Oct. 28, 2021 – New York

© Michael Furtman

There is water everywhere, and waterfowl love it. Hunters, not so much. Heavy rains across the northeastern United States in recent weeks have dramatically increased the places where ducks can feed, rest, and avoid hunters.

In New York, waterfowl seasons are now open across the state (except for Long Island), and mild temperatures and lots of precipitation are making hunting conditions challenging for many waterfowlers.

“New York, like much of the Northeast, experienced an extremely wet late summer and early fall. The first frosts didn’t occur in much of the state until the last week of October,” says Josh Stiller, a wildlife biologist with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. “Birds appear to be spread out, and many hunters are reporting seeing fewer birds than usual. That may be due to lots of water rather than fewer ducks.”

Ed Farley, DU regional biologist in New York’s Finger Lakes region, reports that hunting in his area has been “pretty good so far,” adding, “but it really depends on scouting and finding less pressured areas, especially with the abundant habitat that is around.”

Stiller says anecdotal reports from hunters suggest the Canada goose season got off to a good start, albeit with a reduced bag limit of one bird per day in most areas.

 “Cooler temperatures and northwest winds should start pushing new birds in,” Farley says. “Geese are late but they are beginning to show up now.

Sean Langevin, an avid waterfowler who primarily hunts the Chenango County area of south-central New York, says his season is progressing well.

“We have good numbers of mallards and pintails in the area right now,” Langevin says. We also have some wigeon and gadwalls in certain parts of the state. There are still some teal and wood ducks hanging around too. There are good numbers of geese around, which is great now that the season has opened.”