Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey

Coordinated statewide surveys of Conservation Area wetlands and National Wildlife Refuges are conducted approximately every other week during the waterfowl season. They are normally conducted on Mondays, weather permitting, and reported on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

Comments of: 2018-01-10

Compile by Frank Nelson
Since the last waterfowl survey posting on December 28th the weather has been consistently cold. For the past two weeks in northern Missouri, the average temperature has been 18 degrees Fahrenheit, with lows reaching -14. Even in southern Missouri, the temperatures have remained below freezing during this time, with the daily average being 23 degrees Fahrenheit, and lows hitting -1. This has caused shallow water habitats to freeze up solid, with ice nearly 10 inches thick in northern wetlands and about half that thick on wetlands in the southern part of the state.

Needless, to say the arctic air has caused the abundance of waterfowl on the managed public wetlands to drop significantly. Missouri hasn't been the northern extent of these frigid temperatures either and odds are many birds have moved south. Granted, some cold-hardy fowl have been toughing it out in isolated concentrations on lakes, rivers, and other water bodies across the state and have been feeding in the adjacent fields. However, statewide surveys have shown that locations that may have held birds during cold snaps in previous years have been largely vacant over the past two weeks.

The statewide total for this week on managed public wetlands is 150,979 ducks. This is about 25 percent of what we held at the beginning of January during the last two mild winters. This year's total is more similar to numbers we saw in 2013, 2009, 2008, and 2007 when the new year started off bitterly cold.

This week the weather has once again begun to change as moisture, warming temperatures and strong southerly winds have moved back through the state. Early in the week an inch of rain fell across the southern half of Missouri. The remaining ducks began taking advantage of the new habitat suddenly available between the frozen wetlands and dry ground. Another shift in habitat has begun to occur as the week has progressed and temperatures soften the ice to thaw out the frozen edges. This and the lack of hunting pressure in the Middle and North Zones has caused birds to begin to shuffle and move around a bit as well.

The weather will soon switch back to freezing temperatures as another front moves in tomorrow, no doubt changing things again. The North and Middle Zones are now closed. The South Zone remains open through January 28th. When winters are harsh in Missouri, goose hunting can get good. Snow geese, White-fronted geese and Canada geese can be hunted to February 6th.

This will be the last post for the 2017-2018 waterfowl and habitat surveys. Unfortunately, the coordinated surveys on managed public wetlands don't always capture the abundance and distribution of geese at this time of year. Scouting, watching the weather, and keeping your eyes to the sky is the best option as we close out this year's season. As always, good luck, be safe, and have fun.

More information about habitat conditions and hunting prospects:

Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey
Northcentral Region
Area Survey Date Ducks Species Composition Canada Geese Snow Geese Other
Eagle Bluffs CA * 01/08/2018 1803 500 Gadwalls,
577 Mallards,
225 Mixed dabblers,
21 Shovelers,
480 Teal
702 0 14 Bald Eagles,
15 Great Blue Herons
Fountain Grove CA * 01/04/2018 0 0 0
Grand Pass CA * 01/01/2018 50 40 Mallards,
10 Mixed divers
0 0 185 Bald Eagles,
5 Coots
Swan Lake NWR 01/04/2018 0 0 0
Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey
Northeast Region
Area Survey Date Ducks Species Composition Canada Geese Snow Geese Other
BK Leach CA * 01/08/2018 350 300 Mallards,
50 Shovelers
0 0
Clarence Cannon NWR * 01/08/2018 7050 7000 Mallards,
20 Pintails,
10 Ring-Necked ducks,
5 Shovelers,
15 Teal
35 0 12 Bald Eagles,
2 Great Blue Herons,
25 White Fronted Geese
Columbia Bottom CA * 01/02/2018 4 2 Gadwalls,
2 Mallards
0 0 4 Bald Eagles,
235 Trumpeter Swans
Marais Temps Clair CA * 01/08/2018 2 2 Mallards 0 0
Ted Shanks CA * 01/08/2018 0 120 0
Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey
Northwest Region
Area Survey Date Ducks Species Composition Canada Geese Snow Geese Other
Bob Brown CA * 01/08/2018 124 120 Mallards,
1 Mixed dabblers,
1 Mixed divers,
2 Ring-Necked ducks
0 0 85 Bald Eagles,
11 Coots,
30 Trumpeter Swans
Loess Bluffs NWR * 01/10/2018 29 29 Mallards 22 0 36 Bald Eagles
Nodaway Valley CA * 01/08/2018 0 0 Mallards 0 0 0 Bald Eagles
Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey
Southeast Region
Area Survey Date Ducks Species Composition Canada Geese Snow Geese Other
Coon Island CA * 01/08/2018 11 11 Gadwalls 0 0
Duck Creek CA 01/02/2018 4500 4500 Mixed dabblers 300 0 1 Bald Eagles,
250 White Fronted Geese
Little River CA * 01/09/2018 3000 1000 Mallards,
2000 Shovelers
0 0 20 Coots
Mingo NWR * 01/09/2018 193 40 Gadwalls,
103 Mallards,
50 Ring-Necked ducks
451 0 20 Bald Eagles,
7 Great Blue Herons,
64 Trumpeter Swans
Otter Slough CA * 01/08/2018 17907 300 Gadwalls,
17500 Mallards,
2 Mixed dabblers,
30 Ring-Necked ducks,
75 Shovelers
90 1200 21 Bald Eagles,
250 Coots,
100 White Fronted Geese
Ten Mile Pond CA * 01/09/2018 22025 15000 Mallards,
25 Mixed dabblers,
7000 Teal
0 22000 14 Bald Eagles,
50 Coots,
8 Great Blue Herons,
1500 White Fronted Geese
Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey
Southwest Region
Area Survey Date Ducks Species Composition Canada Geese Snow Geese Other
Four Rivers CA 01/03/2018 0 0 0
Montrose CA * 01/08/2018 93900 84000 Mallards,
5800 Mixed dabblers,
4100 Mixed divers
920 13000 4 Bald Eagles
Schell-Osage CA 01/02/2018 0 0 0
Settles Ford CA * 01/08/2018 0 0 0 1 Bald Eagles

* Designates Ground Count