The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that duck numbers were up slightly again over last year’s duck count. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service http://www.Flyways.us web site reported:
“Preliminary 2015 duck population and pond estimates from the annual Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. The estimate of 49.5 million breeding ducks was similar to last year’s estimate of 49.2 million, and 43% above the long-term average.”
Flyways.us reported that Mallards were up to approximately 11.6 million, which was 7% above the 2014 estimate of 10.4 million, and 51% above the long-term average of 7.7 million. Bluewing Teal numbers are approximately 8.5 million, which about the same as the 2014 estimate of 8.5 million and 73% above the long-term average of 4.9 million. Green-winged teal are up to 4.1 million, which was 19% above the 2014 estimate of 3.4 million and 98% above the long-term average of 2.1 million. The estimate for American wigeon is 3.0 million down 3% from the 2014 estimate of 3.1 million and 17% above the long-term average of 2.6 million. Estimated numbers of gadwall are 3.8 million which is 1% above the 2014 estimate of 3.8 million and 100% above the long-term average 2.6 million. Scaup (both greater and lesser) showed 4.4 million, which is 5% below the 2014 estimate of 4.6 million and 13% below the long-term average of 5.0 million. Northern shoveler (the favorite of SJ, our beloved spoonys) are estimated at 4.4 million which is 17% below the 2014 estimate of 5.3 million and 75% above the long-term average of 2.5 million. Redheads were 1.2 million which is 6% below the 2014 estimate of 1.3 million and 71% above the long-term average of 0.7 million. Canvasbacks showed 0.76 million which 11% higher then the 2014 estimate of 0.685 million and 30% above the long-term average of 0.6 million. Pintails were estimated at 3.0 million, which was 6% below the 2014 estimate of 3.2 million and 24% below the long-term average of 4.0 million.
So it looks like, despite California’s drought, this coming season has the potential to produce good numbers of birds. Some species are down a little, like the Pintails and Scaup, but most species are up at least a little from last year, but some are up significantly over their long-term averages. Hopefully El Nino will kick in and we’ll get some rain down here to provide the needed habitat coupled with some severe weather to the north at the right time to trigger the duck’s migration down to our neck-o-the-woods in time for our season.
As I type this its 106 days until the season opens down here in SoCal. It might be a good time to start getting your duck hunting gear together and maybe go shoot a few rounds of trap or skeet to tune up. If you’re optimistic (like I am) you might want to consider buying a few more boxes of shells as it looks like we might have a few more birds to shoot at. (Oh, and pray the predicted El Nino kicks in and we get some rain!!)
To check out the above duck numbers for yourself go to www.flyways.us