Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Results Released
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Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Results Released

Annual Survey Estimates Number of Dabblers, Divers, Ducks & Waterfowl

Each winter, aerial survey teams of pilots and biologists from Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service make visual estimates of the ducks, geese and swans along the state’s Chesapeake Bay shoreline and Atlantic coast. This year, the teams counted about 812,600 waterfowl, higher than the 663,000 birds observed during 2016 and similar to the five-year average of 795,240.

Biologists attribute much of the year-to-year variation to weather conditions.

“An early December cold snap throughout the East likely moved large numbers of waterfowl, diving ducks in particular, south to Maryland waters,” said Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto.

Overall, dabbling ducks were similar (87,900) to last winter (69,800). Diving duck numbers (283,600) were higher when compared to last winter (246,000). Survey teams also observed more scaup (138,800) and canvasbacks (75,100) in 2017 compared to counts of 91,800 and 19,800 respectively last year. The Canada Goose count (394,700) was higher than 2016 (293,800) but below the five year average.

The Midwinter Waterfowl Survey has been conducted annually since the early 1950s. The Maryland survey results (see below) are ultimately pooled to provide a measure of the distributional changes and long-term trends of waterfowl wintering in the Atlantic Flyway. To learn more about the survey, please watch the February 2017 edition of AccessDNR.

Maryland Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Results, 2013 – 2017
(Figures rounded to the nearest hundred)

Species 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Mallard 33,100 75,900 50,000 41,800 45,300
Black Duck 22,500 39,300 30,900 19,200 25,500
Gadwall 7,400 4,000 5,100 3,200 11,200
Wigeon 500 800 2,200 500 1,400
G-W Teal 6,300 3,900 700 2,400 2,100
Shoveler 1,700 100 100 100 100
Pintail 1,300 4,000 1,800 2,600 2,300
Total Dabblers 72,800 128,000 90,800 69,800 87,900
Redhead 16,700 15,900 32,200 17,900 20,700
Canvasback 18,400 68,400 64,200 19,800 75,100
Scaup 27,500 47,100 55,600 91,800 138,800
Ring-neck 1,900 1,600 300 700 400
Goldeneye 800 1,500 600 1,100 700
Bufflehead 15,600 21,800 19,100 26,700 12,900
Ruddy Duck 17,200 34,000 20,000 88,000 35,000
Total Divers 98,100 190,300 192,000 246,000 283,600
Scoters 2,000 7,600 1,300 7,100 4,900
Long-tailed Duck 600 200 100 100 2,700
Mergansers 2,000 6,200 3,000 1,100 2,100
Total Ducks 175,500 332,400 287,200 324,000 381,200
Brant 1,500 600 900 1,000 900
Snow Goose 83,300 44,200 44,900 32,600 21,300
Canada Goose 462,000 512,100 504,700 293,800 394,700
Tundra Swan 17,300 16,100 17,800 11,200 14,500
Total Waterfowl 739,600 905,500 855,500 663,000 812,600

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