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: 2018-11-07

Compiled by Frank Nelson
Although the sun has shown through the clouds now and then, through the past week the rainfall totals have exceeded 1 inch in northwest Missouri and up to 5 inches in southeast Missouri. The impact has kept the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers up near flood stage, made for muddy conditions throughout the bottoms, and distributed sheetwater across fields in wetter regions.

As we move further into this fall's migration we continue to see species composition shift as ducks move to and through the state. The total number of ducks increased slightly over the past week and is currently at 432,065 ducks. This is slightly above the five-year average of 398,698. However, this can be the time where we often see a steep inflection in ducks. Last year at the beginning of November we had an earlier increase and saw a new all-time high for the first week of November with 689,957 ducks. Our current conditions are likely to change with the severity of winter weather up north.

Comparing this week's surveys with last week's count, we see the number of mallards has increased a little statewide, but the percentage remain the same at 40 percent of the ducks. Little change has occurred with Gadwall numbers. Northern pintail numbers have started to level off and their percentage among species has started to drop. The most noticeable species composition change has been related to green-winged teal. Statewide numbers have almost tripled and the percent has risen from 6 to 14 percent of the total ducks. However, this shift varies by area because some locations have seen their green-wings vanish, while other areas have seen a noticeable influx of these small, fleet-of-wing birds. Another site-specific trend is the ringed-neck duck migration. Where they are present, their numbers have also continued rise over the past week. As recently as today, a couple biologists have noted high flying geese moving into the state.

We often experience a major migration around Veteran's Day and it looks like this will likely hold true for this year as well. An blast of arctic air is pushing its way across the Midwest this week and looks like the cold air is forecasted to linger, which is likely to freeze up shallowly flooded habitats to the north. As we've seen so far, waterfowl species composition is likely to change in the next week with a potential influx of more mallards and the departure of early season migrants like pintail, wigeon, shovelers, gadwall, and green-winged teal.

Heading into this weekend the North Zone will continue to be open through the end of the season. However, as a reminder the Middle Zone now has a split season and will be closed on November 10 - November 14 and the second segment will begin on November 15. In the South Zone, duck season opens on November 22.

We have heard from a few hunters asking why the Middle Zone season is closed during a week when the first major migration of mallards usually occurs. The change was based on hunter input received from 3,515 individuals who responded to an opinion survey after the 2014 season, 538 duck hunters who participated in one of the 14 public workshops held around the state after the 2015 season, and those who communicated directly with Department staff. The message we heard from hunters, both in the survey and at the workshops, was that they wanted later seasons. The two most popular options in the Middle Zone were to start the season a week later or to offer a split season as we do now. However, moving the season back a week would have forced the 70\% of Middle Zone hunters, who also deer hunt, from having to make the difficult choice of either preserving opening day deer season or opening day duck season traditions. Hunters also pointed out that offering a split would give hunters some experience with it to see if they would like it and offer a "second opener". We will have an opportunity to make adjustments, if needed, when the next opportunity to change zones/splits occurs for the 2021-2025 seasons.

We depend on hunter input to set dates that best accommodate hunter preferences. If you receive a survey or hear about public meetings, please take the time to participate. We will begin collecting hunter input information through a duck hunter opinion survey for the next five-year review after the 2018-2019 hunting season. We'll then hold public meetings after the 2019-20 season. Any changes will go into effect in 2021.

Good luck out there, have fun, and be safe. The next Waterfowl and Habitat Survey will be posted on November 21st.

More information about habitat conditions and hunting prospects:

Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey
Middle Zone
Area Survey Date Ducks Species Composition Canada Geese Snow Geese Other
Columbia Bottom CA * 11/05/2018 2500 200 Gadwalls,
800 Mallards,
300 Mixed dabblers,
200 Pintails,
200 Shovelers,
800 Teal
0 0 10 Coots,
63 Trumpeter Swans
Duck Creek CA * 11/05/2018 18962 6600 Gadwalls,
3950 Mallards,
31 Mixed dabblers,
565 Pintails,
5560 Ring-Necked ducks,
1674 Shovelers,
572 Teal,
10 Wigeon
0 0 3 Bald Eagles,
1825 Coots,
4 Great Blue Herons
Eagle Bluffs CA * 11/05/2018 9495 500 Gadwalls,
3005 Mallards,
4375 Mixed dabblers,
1000 Pintails,
515 Shovelers,
100 Teal
25 0 5 Bald Eagles,
3350 Coots,
7 Great Blue Herons
Four Rivers CA * 11/06/2018 15375 1490 Gadwalls,
9215 Mallards,
1490 Mixed dabblers,
447 Pintails,
298 Shovelers,
2435 Teal
35 0
Grand Pass CA * 11/05/2018 67405 3500 Gadwalls,
34000 Mallards,
5 Mixed dabblers,
200 Mixed divers,
10000 Pintails,
1200 Shovelers,
17500 Teal,
1000 Wigeon
40 0 5 Bald Eagles,
500 Coots,
500 White Fronted Geese
Marais Temps Clair CA * 11/05/2018 977 310 Gadwalls,
650 Mallards,
12 Mixed dabblers,
5 Pintails
0 0
Mingo NWR * 11/06/2018 16129 2404 Gadwalls,
8555 Mallards,
600 Mixed dabblers,
1040 Pintails,
110 Ring-Necked ducks,
451 Shovelers,
2961 Teal,
8 Wigeon
68 0 20 Bald Eagles,
170 Coots,
43 Great Blue Herons
Montrose CA * 11/05/2018 105 70 Gadwalls,
35 Mallards
0 0 350 Coots
Otter Slough CA * 11/05/2018 17300 5900 Gadwalls,
3000 Mallards,
100 Mixed dabblers,
100 Mixed divers,
2000 Pintails,
1200 Ring-Necked ducks,
500 Shovelers,
4000 Teal,
500 Wigeon
0 0 900 Coots,
300 White Fronted Geese
Settles Ford CA * 11/05/2018 6100 500 Gadwalls,
2000 Mallards,
100 Pintails,
3500 Teal
0 0 1 Bald Eagles
Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey
North Zone
Area Survey Date Ducks Species Composition Canada Geese Snow Geese Other
BK Leach CA * 11/05/2018 3096 420 Gadwalls,
2120 Mallards,
460 Mixed dabblers,
10 Pintails,
56 Shovelers,
30 Teal
0 0
Bob Brown CA * 11/05/2018 13975 1400 Gadwalls,
4400 Mallards,
70 Mixed dabblers,
155 Mixed divers,
5100 Pintails,
550 Ring-Necked ducks,
500 Shovelers,
1550 Teal,
250 Wigeon
0 0 12 Bald Eagles,
3100 Coots,
19 Great Blue Herons,
7 Great Egrets
Clarence Cannon NWR * 11/06/2018 34247 3745 Gadwalls,
13618 Mallards,
100 Mixed dabblers,
2 Mixed divers,
13959 Pintails,
340 Shovelers,
2383 Teal,
100 Wigeon
251 1 4 Bald Eagles,
33 Coots
Fountain Grove CA * 11/05/2018 15400 1000 Gadwalls,
7500 Mallards,
500 Mixed dabblers,
200 Mixed divers,
500 Pintails,
200 Ring-Necked ducks,
250 Shovelers,
5000 Teal,
250 Wigeon
550 0 13 Bald Eagles,
25 Coots,
5 Great Blue Herons,
250 White Fronted Geese
Loess Bluffs NWR * 11/06/2018 78185 14115 Gadwalls,
15995 Mallards,
26 Mixed dabblers,
110 Mixed divers,
28890 Pintails,
12994 Ring-Necked ducks,
2760 Shovelers,
3200 Teal,
95 Wigeon
409 1630 2350 Coots,
15 Trumpeter Swans,
8360 White Fronted Geese
Nodaway Valley CA * 11/05/2018 8560 1310 Gadwalls,
3700 Mallards,
500 Mixed dabblers,
2650 Pintails,
400 Wigeon
0 0 7 Bald Eagles,
175 Coots
Swan Lake NWR * 10/31/2018 54237 5700 Gadwalls,
26110 Mallards,
112 Mixed dabblers,
480 Mixed divers,
15200 Pintails,
575 Ring-Necked ducks,
2785 Shovelers,
3275 Teal
16 40 17 Bald Eagles,
16440 Coots,
4 Great Blue Herons,
1 Great Egrets,
2 Pelicans,
2875 White Fronted Geese
Ted Shanks CA * 11/05/2018 46950 15384 Gadwalls,
15440 Mallards,
800 Mixed dabblers,
120 Pintails,
15206 Teal
0 0 5 Bald Eagles
Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey
South Zone
Area Survey Date Ducks Species Composition Canada Geese Snow Geese Other
Coon Island CA * 11/05/2018 1300 350 Gadwalls,
500 Mallards,
200 Mixed dabblers,
50 Pintails,
100 Shovelers,
100 Teal
0 0
Little River CA * 11/05/2018 450 250 Mallards,
150 Shovelers,
50 Teal
0 0 1 Bald Eagles,
3 Great Blue Herons
Ten Mile Pond CA * 11/06/2018 21317 1950 Gadwalls,
16150 Mallards,
76 Mixed dabblers,
330 Pintails,
80 Ring-Necked ducks,
681 Shovelers,
2050 Teal
0 0 5 Bald Eagles,
25 Coots,
3 Great Blue Herons,
2 White Fronted Geese

* Designates Ground Count