Cumberland Times-News

Outdoors

March 15, 2014

Duck count sky high in Maryland

ANNAPOLIS — Each winter,

aerial survey teams of pilots and

biologists from the U.S. Fish and

Wildlife Service and the Maryland

Department of Natural

Resources make visual estimates

of ducks, swans and

geese along Maryland’s Chesapeake

Bay shoreline and

Atlantic coast.

This year the teams witnessed

more than 905,000 waterfowl, 22

percent higher than those

observed in January 2013

(739,600).

Biologists attribute the higher

count to the fact many species

flocked to Maryland’s portion of

the Chesapeake Bay due to

severe winter conditions to the

north.

Additionally, large areas of the

bay and tributaries were ice covered

during the survey period,

concentrating waterfowl in icefree,

open waters where they

were more easily counted.

The survey estimates for mallards,

black ducks and canvasbacks

were the highest they

have been since the mid-1970s.

Overall, dabbling ducks were

more abundant this time around

(128,000) compared to last winter

(72,800).

There were nearly twice as

many diving ducks this survey

(190,300) over last year (98,100).

The canvasback count (68,400)

was the highest since the mid-

1960s, and far greater than the

January 2013 estimate (18,400).

Survey teams also observed

large numbers of wintering

Canada geese (512,100) along

the upper Chesapeake Bay.

The Midwinter Waterfowl Survey

has been conducted annually

throughout the United States

since the early 1950s.

The Maryland survey results

are ultimately pooled with those

of other states to provide a

measure of the distribution and

population size of waterfowl wintering

in the Atlantic Flyway, as

well as information on long-term

trends.

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