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: 2019-01-16

Compiled by Frank Nelson
Temperatures during the first week of 2019 were unseasonably warm across the Midwest. In Missouri temperatures ranged from 5-10 degrees above normal. Rain was widespread with over a half an inch in northern Missouri and nearly 2 inches in the southeast part of the state. The rain pushed the Ohio and Mississippi River up into moderate and minor flood stages, which caused farm ground between the rivers and Federal Flood Protection levee to be inundated in southeast Missouri, western Kentucky, and western Tennessee. The warm weather extended halfway into the second week of January as well. On January 8th, daily highs across much of the state reached into the mid 60's.

In 2018, each month we seemed to swing from one weather extreme to the next and this trend looks like it has continued into 2019. After an unusually warm start, during the last 6 days the nightly lows have been at or below freezing across the state. During the weekend, January 12-13, daily temperatures dipped and winter storm system brought a mix of precipitation to the state. As the temperatures began to decrease, rain covered the state with a half inch to 2 inches of rain. This was followed by a mix of ice and sleet before switching to snow. When it was all said and done, 8 inches of snow was commonplace in the northern half of Missouri. The center and northeast quarter of the state was hit even harder and had snow accumulation totals ranging between 12-18 inches. Temperatures in the southern third of the state remained warm enough that rain was the primary precipitation and only a dusting of snow occurred.

Instead of swinging back warmer, the weather is forecasted to stay overcast and frosty into next week. A wintery mix is projected as we head into the weekend and temperatures will continue to dive, reaching potentially dangerous sub-zero levels in more northern locations. Southeast Missouri and the Ohio Valley are forecasted to receive another batch of rain that will likely raise rivers back into the adjacent floodplain.

So what have the ducks been doing as the weather swings back and forth? As you might imagine there have been a range of responses. Prior to the new year, mallards made up ninety percent of the ducks present on public managed wetlands. However, with the mild start to the year and spring like temperatures, biologists had started to see the first signs of spring migration as a few pintail, gadwall, and even some green-winged teal and shovelers were counted over the last two weeks. With these other dabblers in the mix, we saw the percentage of mallards dropped to eighty and seventy percent of the total ducks. Despite the difference in species composition, the total number of ducks had continued decrease on most areas. In southeast Missouri this may have been due to birds taking advantage of recent floodwater along the Mississippi River. Over the last six days, the decrease in bird numbers has been contributed by the freezing temperatures and locking up of shallow water habitat.

With the North and Middle Zones now closed, waterfowl hunters may have hung up their waders and stashed their decoys until next fall. For those hunting the South Zone and sticking it out to the end, the rice ground and shallowly flooded habitats on public land are likely going to become frozen in the next week. Deeper water habitats and areas with moving water could prove to be a final bright spot before the season closes. Good luck, be safe, and have fun.

This is the last post of the 2018-2019 waterfowl season.

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 * 01/14/2019 3000 2700 Mallards,
300 Mixed dabblers
0 750 187 Trumpeter Swans,
500 White Fronted Geese
Duck Creek CA * 01/15/2019 10475 795 Gadwalls,
8040 Mallards,
20 Mixed divers,
1490 Ring-Necked ducks,
130 Shovelers
25 0 8 Bald Eagles,
9 Great Blue Herons,
150 White Fronted Geese
Eagle Bluffs CA * 01/15/2019 19170 800 Gadwalls,
16000 Mallards,
2000 Mixed dabblers,
370 Shovelers
4500 500 20 Bald Eagles,
3 Great Blue Herons,
61 Trumpeter Swans,
30 White Fronted Geese
Four Rivers CA * 12/31/2018 57812 2 Gadwalls,
56900 Mallards,
8 Mixed divers,
900 Mixed ducks,
2 Pintails
0 0
Grand Pass CA * 12/31/2018 225000 220000 Mallards,
4000 Mixed dabblers,
1000 Mixed divers
50 30000 263 Bald Eagles,
42 Trumpeter Swans,
75 White Fronted Geese
Marais Temps Clair CA * 01/15/2019 6815 545 Gadwalls,
4960 Mallards,
300 Mixed dabblers,
1010 Pintails
30 0 1 Bald Eagles
Mingo NWR * 01/10/2019 50390 6060 Gadwalls,
37450 Mallards,
561 Mixed dabblers,
131 Mixed divers,
1861 Pintails,
1259 Ring-Necked ducks,
2409 Shovelers,
516 Teal,
143 Wigeon
0 0 58 Bald Eagles,
120 Coots,
11 Great Blue Herons,
19 Trumpeter Swans,
2707 White Fronted Geese
Montrose CA * 01/15/2019 385 250 Mallards,
120 Mixed divers,
15 Ring-Necked ducks
225 0 3 Bald Eagles,
15 Pelicans
Otter Slough CA * 01/14/2019 29900 7500 Gadwalls,
13000 Mallards,
2500 Pintails,
400 Ring-Necked ducks,
2000 Shovelers,
4000 Teal,
500 Wigeon
50 20000 8 Bald Eagles,
300 Coots,
1500 White Fronted Geese
Settles Ford CA * 01/15/2019 4100 4000 Mallards,
50 Mixed dabblers,
50 Pintails
0 0 3 Bald Eagles,
2 Trumpeter Swans
Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey
North Zone
Area Survey Date Ducks Species Composition Canada Geese Snow Geese Other
BK Leach CA * 01/14/2019 21500 19000 Mallards,
2500 Mixed dabblers
0 0
Bob Brown CA * 01/14/2019 1395 1280 Mallards,
30 Mixed dabblers,
85 Mixed divers
0 300 27 Bald Eagles,
2 Trumpeter Swans
Clarence Cannon NWR * 01/15/2019 11786 10450 Mallards,
6 Mixed dabblers,
1125 Pintails,
205 Teal
825 250 17 Bald Eagles,
73 Trumpeter Swans,
465 White Fronted Geese
Fountain Grove CA * 12/31/2018 121000 2500 Gadwalls,
115000 Mallards,
250 Mixed divers,
2500 Pintails,
750 Wigeon
1500 50000 83 Bald Eagles,
25 Trumpeter Swans,
5500 White Fronted Geese
Loess Bluffs NWR * 12/17/2018 10444 20 Gadwalls,
9849 Mallards,
153 Mixed divers,
5 Pintails,
380 Ring-Necked ducks,
35 Teal,
2 Wigeon
2795 123326 14 Tundra Swans,
1643 White Fronted Geese
Nodaway Valley CA * 01/11/2019 6800 6800 Mallards 875 2600 34 Bald Eagles,
1100 White Fronted Geese
Swan Lake NWR * 12/18/2018 58225 49160 Mallards,
850 Mixed divers,
715 Pintails,
7500 Ring-Necked ducks
3755 102000 39 Bald Eagles,
75 Coots,
350 Trumpeter Swans,
800 White Fronted Geese
Ted Shanks CA * 01/08/2019 144240 620 Gadwalls,
120230 Mallards,
23390 Pintails
970 35000 22 Bald Eagles,
1 Tundra Swans,
20305 White Fronted Geese
Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey
South Zone
Area Survey Date Ducks Species Composition Canada Geese Snow Geese Other
Coon Island CA * 01/14/2019 3504 800 Gadwalls,
1300 Mallards,
4 Mixed divers,
1000 Pintails,
100 Ring-Necked ducks,
100 Shovelers,
200 Teal
0 0 2 Bald Eagles,
2 Trumpeter Swans
Little River CA * 01/14/2019 1000 150 Mallards,
50 Mixed divers,
800 Shovelers
0 0 1 Bald Eagles,
2 Great Blue Herons
Ten Mile Pond CA * 01/14/2019 28141 2000 Gadwalls,
19000 Mallards,
6 Mixed dabblers,
5000 Pintails,
100 Ring-Necked ducks,
10 Shovelers,
2000 Teal,
25 Wigeon
0 3000 12 Bald Eagles,
70 Coots,
1000 White Fronted Geese

* Designates Ground Count