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: 2017-11-15

Compiled by Frank Nelson
La Nina winters frequently result in below average temperatures across Canada and the Upper Midwest. At the same time, southern states often experience above average temperatures. As a mid-latitude state, Missouri finds itself in between these extremes, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. As habitats freeze up north, waterfowl migrate south looking for available habitat. Some individuals make long distance treks, while others may not travel nearly as far to find adequate stop-over sites.

Last week marked the beginning of the North and Middle Zones in Missouri. Typically, we see the harvest drop off after opening weekend as birds adjust to hunting disturbance. However, the timing of a significant migration movement to and through the state occurred (November 5th - 8th) following the opening weekend and extended hunter success into the work week on most of the managed wetland areas across the state. This corresponded to a cold front that brought freezing temperatures and snow to the Upper Midwest, locking up many of the habitats in Canada, North Dakota, and Minnesota.

From the week prior we saw the total number of ducks in Missouri increase by 60\% and a considerable shift in species composition. Although both gadwall and mallard numbers doubled, the majority of birds were mallards. Their percentage rose from 28\% to 59\% of the total ducks. The abundance of pintail, green-winged teal, and gadwall stayed close to the same and each species represented about 15\% of the other ducks in Missouri.

This week the total number of ducks continued to increase slightly and cracked the 1 million duck mark. A few managers noted more mallards and some divers move in towards the later portion of the week, as the percentage of mallards climbed to 66\%. We also saw the number of other dabbling ducks begin to drop slightly. Another change in the last week was the buildup of snow geese in certain locations and an increase in trumpeter swan numbers. Throughout much of October this year's migration numbers were comparable to the five year average. However, the five year average for the second week of November is 691,140. With this week's total exceeds one million ducks (1,013,881) across the publicly managed wetlands, we've departed from the mean and exceeded maximum totals witnessed in 2012 and 2013, which were just under a million.

When contrasting this year's migration chronology with the past, you can look at timing and abundance of birds. Although the abundance of other dabbling ducks, like pintail, gadwall, and green-winged teal, may vary from year to year, their peak usually occurs this week or next week. From a dabbling duck perspective it looks like we were on track.

However, the annual fall migration curve is often dictated by the timing and abundance of mallards moving through Missouri. Depending upon the year this can vary. During the last two years we have seen a slow and steady build up into the middle of December. However, in 2013 we saw a different pattern. Mallards dramatically increase during the latter half of November and then dropped sharply as winter weather froze up habitats as December progressed. In five of the past seven years, the inflection point when mallards became more abundant than other dabbling ducks was a week or two later than this year. You would have to go back to 2006 to find a year when mallards migrated in mass any earlier than what we've recently witnessed. This occurred at the end of October 31, 2006, when cold, snow, and strong northwest winds moved through the Upper Midwest, which is very similar circumstances to what occurred last week. So from this perspective, it looks like we are running a bit early this year. From here on out the questions will be how fast will the numbers continue to climb, at what point do they peak, and then will they stay high or will they fall quickly. The severity of winter weather often plays a crucial part in each one of these questions.

The Middle Zone split comes to a close today and opens back up tomorrow on November 16th. The South Zone's Youth Weekend is this weekend, November 18th and 19th. It is followed by the South Zone opener on Thanksgiving, November 23rd. In order to accommodate later season hunting opportunity this year the South Zone will temporarily close on November 26th and then be open again on December 4th.

The next waterfowl and habitat survey will be posted on November 29th. Have fun and be safe this season.

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 * 11/13/2017 23640 4200 Gadwalls,
9030 Mallards,
1560 Mixed dabblers,
8850 Teal
0 0 3150 Coots,
11 Great Blue Herons
Fountain Grove CA * 11/13/2017 71254 2000 Gadwalls,
58000 Mallards,
752 Mixed dabblers,
852 Mixed divers,
1500 Pintails,
2000 Ring-Necked ducks,
500 Shovelers,
5500 Teal,
150 Wigeon
500 0 41 Bald Eagles,
1500 Coots,
5 Great Blue Herons,
20 Unidentified Swans,
75 White Fronted Geese
Grand Pass CA * 11/13/2017 96455 4000 Gadwalls,
65000 Mallards,
750 Mixed dabblers,
5250 Mixed divers,
5250 Pintails,
3550 Shovelers,
10505 Teal,
2150 Wigeon
200 225 25 Bald Eagles,
2000 Coots,
25 Great Blue Herons,
100 White Fronted Geese
Swan Lake NWR * 11/14/2017 98157 600 Gadwalls,
81595 Mallards,
4960 Mixed dabblers,
302 Mixed divers,
1375 Pintails,
2750 Ring-Necked ducks,
475 Shovelers,
6100 Teal
0 15000 34 Bald Eagles,
2500 Coots,
9 Great Blue Herons,
28 Trumpeter Swans
Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey
Northeast Region
Area Survey Date Ducks Species Composition Canada Geese Snow Geese Other
BK Leach CA * 11/14/2017 14235 3350 Gadwalls,
8485 Mallards,
1425 Mixed dabblers,
25 Mixed divers,
280 Pintails,
600 Shovelers,
60 Teal,
10 Wigeon
0 0
Clarence Cannon NWR * 11/14/2017 149438 6200 Gadwalls,
108200 Mallards,
461 Mixed dabblers,
164 Mixed divers,
27900 Pintails,
225 Ring-Necked ducks,
460 Shovelers,
5128 Teal,
700 Wigeon
9145 0 16 Bald Eagles,
650 Coots,
9 Great Blue Herons,
46 White Fronted Geese
Columbia Bottom CA * 11/13/2017 4670 200 Gadwalls,
3255 Mallards,
10 Mixed dabblers,
245 Pintails,
160 Shovelers,
800 Teal
23 0 56 Coots,
35 Trumpeter Swans
Marais Temps Clair CA * 11/13/2017 2075 450 Gadwalls,
1100 Mallards,
75 Mixed dabblers,
250 Pintails,
25 Ring-Necked ducks,
100 Shovelers,
75 Teal
41 0 4 Bald Eagles,
45 Coots
Ted Shanks CA * 11/14/2017 71860 2175 Gadwalls,
46325 Mallards,
750 Mixed dabblers,
1275 Pintails,
3500 Ring-Necked ducks,
125 Shovelers,
17710 Teal
15 0 8 Bald Eagles,
4500 Coots
Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey
Northwest Region
Area Survey Date Ducks Species Composition Canada Geese Snow Geese Other
Bob Brown CA * 11/13/2017 43375 4400 Gadwalls,
32450 Mallards,
70 Mixed dabblers,
570 Mixed divers,
2950 Pintails,
470 Ring-Necked ducks,
200 Shovelers,
1725 Teal,
540 Wigeon
0 0 14 Bald Eagles,
335 Coots
Loess Bluffs NWR * 11/14/2017 127010 1225 Gadwalls,
61370 Mallards,
10 Mixed dabblers,
75 Mixed divers,
25625 Pintails,
3900 Ring-Necked ducks,
615 Shovelers,
34175 Teal,
15 Wigeon
791 61705 79 Bald Eagles,
1190 Coots,
245 Trumpeter Swans,
910 White Fronted Geese
Nodaway Valley CA * 11/13/2017 24345 2850 Gadwalls,
14600 Mallards,
618 Mixed dabblers,
3000 Pintails,
77 Ring-Necked ducks,
3200 Teal
0 0 1 Bald Eagles,
175 Coots
Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey
Southeast Region
Area Survey Date Ducks Species Composition Canada Geese Snow Geese Other
Coon Island CA * 11/14/2017 1250 300 Gadwalls,
800 Mallards,
50 Mixed dabblers,
100 Shovelers
0 0
Duck Creek CA * 11/14/2017 54633 11000 Gadwalls,
19400 Mallards,
73 Mixed dabblers,
25 Mixed divers,
3000 Pintails,
13000 Ring-Necked ducks,
5300 Shovelers,
2800 Teal,
35 Wigeon
150 300 13400 Coots,
3300 White Fronted Geese
Little River CA * 11/13/2017 500 300 Mallards,
200 Shovelers
0 0 75 Coots
Mingo NWR * 11/13/2017 17480 4343 Gadwalls,
8690 Mallards,
762 Mixed dabblers,
51 Mixed divers,
904 Pintails,
28 Ring-Necked ducks,
83 Shovelers,
2585 Teal,
34 Wigeon
41 0 18 Bald Eagles,
64 Coots,
32 Great Blue Herons,
13 Great Egrets,
12 Trumpeter Swans
Otter Slough CA * 11/14/2017 23600 3500 Gadwalls,
7000 Mallards,
100 Mixed dabblers,
500 Pintails,
1500 Ring-Necked ducks,
2000 Shovelers,
9000 Teal
75 9000 3500 White Fronted Geese
Ten Mile Pond CA * 11/13/2017 40441 1445 Gadwalls,
27225 Mallards,
168 Mixed dabblers,
8651 Pintails,
1010 Ring-Necked ducks,
230 Shovelers,
1700 Teal,
12 Wigeon
0 3000 240 Coots,
3 Great Blue Herons,
2515 White Fronted Geese
Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey
Southwest Region
Area Survey Date Ducks Species Composition Canada Geese Snow Geese Other
Four Rivers CA * 11/10/2017 89510 5000 Gadwalls,
70000 Mallards,
3000 Mixed dabblers,
10 Mixed divers,
500 Pintails,
300 Ring-Necked ducks,
500 Shovelers,
10000 Teal,
200 Wigeon
0 0 48 White Fronted Geese
Montrose CA * 11/14/2017 6760 1100 Gadwalls,
1250 Mallards,
2810 Mixed divers,
300 Ring-Necked ducks,
200 Shovelers,
800 Teal,
300 Wigeon
27 2600 2 Bald Eagles,
400 Coots,
130 Pelicans
Schell-Osage CA * 11/10/2017 45894 487 Gadwalls,
38210 Mallards,
3976 Mixed dabblers,
640 Mixed divers,
524 Pintails,
10 Ring-Necked ducks,
135 Shovelers,
1912 Teal
220 2500 3 Bald Eagles,
200 Coots,
5 Great Blue Herons,
2 Great Egrets,
52 Pelicans,
70 White Fronted Geese
Settles Ford CA * 11/13/2017 7299 50 Gadwalls,
4805 Mallards,
130 Mixed dabblers,
5 Mixed divers,
930 Pintails,
4 Ring-Necked ducks,
200 Shovelers,
1135 Teal,
40 Wigeon
0 0 1400 Coots

* Designates Ground Count