The majority of Mississippi Flyway waterfowl are raised on the prairies of the United States and Canada, as well as in the Western Boreal Forest, southern and central Ontario, and the Great Lakes states. In southern Manitoba, ample carryover water and timely spring rains resulted in a 17 percent increase in May pond numbers, which were near the long-term average overall. Total breeding ducks in this region were down 11 percent this spring, but remained 15 percent above the long-term average.
DU Canada biologist Lena Vanden Elsen reports that late spring and summer weather improved prospects for waterfowl production in southern Manitoba this year. “The southwestern portion of the province received several significant precipitation events beginning in mid-June and continuing into July,” Vanden Elsen reports. “Grassland cover for nesting waterfowl was lush, and haying operations were delayed because of the rain. In late July, our field staff were still observing large numbers of broods of various ages, indicating a strong breeding effort among both early- and late-nesting species. Brood survival was also expected to be good this year, as wetlands and upland vegetation were in good condition.”
The waterfowl production outlook was variable in neighboring Ontario, which is an important breeding ground for the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyways. “ In June, the temperature warmed up across Ontario, and for much of southern and central Ontario, an extended period of drought began,” says DU Canada biologist David McLachlin. “Conversely, reports indicated that wetland conditions were more favorable across northern Ontario, with abundant precipitation on the Hudson Bay coast to more variable amounts across the Boreal zone. While drought across the south limited seasonal wetland habitat for breeding pairs, many larger brood-rearing wetlands have withstood the lack of precipitation. In the north, field reports indicate that habitat conditions were generally favorable for breeding pairs and broods.”
Ducks and geese raised in the Great Lakes states make an important contribution to waterfowl populations locally and throughout the eastern Mississippi Flyway. In Minnesota, total duck numbers were up 47 percent this spring and were 25 percent above the long-term average. In Michigan and Wisconsin, duck populations were largely unchanged from the previous year’s estimates and their respective long-term averages. As in southern Ontario, dry spring and summer weather likely impacted waterfowl production in the Great Lakes states in 2016.
“ Abnormally dry conditions persisted throughout much of the brood-rearing period across a substantial portion of the Great Lakes region,” reports Dr. John Coluccy, director of conservation planning in DU’s Great Lakes/Atlantic Region. “These conditions likely hampered brood survival and renesting efforts to some degree.”
This was a good year for most Mississippi Flyway goose populations. Weather conditions in the central Arctic were generally favorable for breeding waterfowl, and average to above-average production of lesser snow, Ross’s, and white-fronted geese is expected this year. Excellent production was reported among giant Canada geese, while inclement weather on northern breeding areas may have adversely affected breeding success for Mississippi Flyway Interior Population Canada geese, which include birds from the Southern James Bay, Mississippi Valley, and Eastern Prairie populations.
– Source: Ducks Unlimited