The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its annual survey of waterfowl breeding pairs. Biologists found that after a three-year decline in mallards and total duck species (meaning all species combined), both categories have increased this year.
The breeding population of mallards increased from 173,865 to 263,774 (an increase of 52 percent) and total ducks increased from 315,577 to 417,791 (an increase of 32 percent).
"The late, abundant spring rains were a real boost to the habitat this year," noted Melanie Weaver, a CDFW waterfowl biologist who participated in the survey. "We expect good production and a larger fall flight this year because of it."
CDFW biologists and warden pilots have conducted this annual survey using fixed-wing aircraft since 1948. The population estimates are for the surveyed areas only, which include the majority of the suitable duck nesting habitat in the state. Surveyed areas include wetland and agricultural areas in northeastern California, throughout the Central Valley, the Suisun Marsh and some coastal valleys.
The full Breeding Population Survey Report can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/birds/waterfowl.
The majority of California's wintering duck population originates from breeding areas surveyed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Alaska and Canada. Those survey results should be available in July. CDFW survey information, along with similar data from other Pacific Flyway states, is used by the USFWS and the Pacific Flyway Council when setting hunting regulations for the Pacific Flyway states, including California.
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988