August 16, 2016 is a day worthy of celebration among waterfowlers, as it marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. signing of the first Migratory Bird Treaty with Great Britain (for Canada). The culmination of an unprecedented movement to protect wildlife wherever it lived, including across international borders, the Treaty set the stage for a century of bird conservation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is allowing everyone to join in the celebration all week with a series of events and through social media.
Mark Koneff, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division Chief of Migratory Bird Surveys is in Saskatchewan, Canada with several other pilot biologists you'll recognize from their contributions to our flight logs to band ducks for the annual waterfowl banding project. Banding ducks is part of the effort to continue gathering knowledge for better management of waterfowl, providing information on population estimates, migration patterns, life span, survivability, productivity, and disease prevalence. The Division of Migratory Bird Management undertakes a number of surveys in conjunction with the USFWS Regional Offices, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and State and Provincial wildlife-management agencies. Mark recently took a moment to report in on the conditions the banding crews are observing.
Using the Bands Across America search tools found on this site, you can query and map waterfowl banding data as recent as this past spring all the way back to 1914.
Your search of nearly 3.8 million banding records can be narrowed or expanded using multiple criteria to easily see banding and recovery locations. All results are plotted on a scalable map, offering critical information for waterfowl biologists monitoring populations across the continent.
2016 duck population and pond estimates from the annual Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. The estimate of 48.4 million breeding ducks was similar to last year’s estimate of 49.5 million, and 38% above the long-term average. The total pond estimate was 5 million, which was 21% below last year’s estimate of 6.3 million and similar to the long-term average of 5.2 million. Despite an early spring over most of the survey area, habitat conditions were poorer than last year because of below-average precipitation and subsequent drying of wetlands. Most prairie and parkland regions were at best fair for waterfowl production.
Sales for the 2015-2016 Federal Duck Stamp and Junior Duck Stamp began on Friday, June 24, 2016 with a special event hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Postal Service and Bass Pro Shops at the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Springfield, Missouri. Waterfowl hunters, birders, stamp collectors, conservationists and outdoor recreationists lined up to be among the first to buy the nation’s most unique and successful conservation stamp. This year's Federal stamp features trumpeter swans and is the work of Minnesotan Joe Hautman, and 16-year-old Stacy Shen painted the Ross's geese that adorn this year's Junior Duck Stamp. A stamp purchase is required annually for all waterfowl hunters 16 and older, and grants the bearer free entrance into national wildlife refuges. The new stamps can be purchased online, at many sporting goods and retail stores, and at some post offices and national wildlife refuges. Since 1934, the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp has provided more than $850 million, conserving over 5.7 million acres of crucial habitat throughout the United States and its territories.
Veteran pilot biologist Jim Bredy and his observer Joe Sands enthusiastically launched the 2016 Breeding Population and Habitat Survey on May 3rd, taking to the skies of southern Alberta, Canada. Pilots and ground crews in ten other survey areas across Canada and the northern United States will follow suit in the days ahead, and as always you can get the inside scoop on what they are seeing every day as they post their observations, photos and videos. Jim and Joe report very dry conditions on the first day of the survey, but the weeks ahead will reveal whether that is the norm or simply one in a wide range of conditions throughout the Prairie Potholes region. What they find will play an important role in setting regulations for the fall waterfowl hunting seasons.
A cooperative effort of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and state, provincial, and tribal agencies, this survey currently covers more than 2.1 million square miles of the northern United States and Canada, and includes most of the primary duck nesting areas in North America.