Researchers counted counted approximately 663,000 waterfowl while conducting the 2016 Maryland Midwinter Waterfowl Survey.
The total was well below the 855,500 birds observed during 2015 and less than the five year average of 759,460.
Each winter, aerial survey teams of pilots and biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) make visual estimates of the ducks, geese, and swans along the Chesapeake Bay shoreline and Atlantic coast.
Overall, dabbling ducks were less abundant (69,800) compared to last winter (90,800). Diving duck numbers (246,000) were higher than those observed last winter (192,000).
Survey teams observed more scaup (91,800) and ruddy ducks (88,000) in 2016 compared to counts of 55,600 and 20,000 respectively last year. Scaup and ruddy ducks were concentrated in the lower Chester River and along the Calvert County bay shoreline.
The Canada goose count (293,800) was one of the lowest in recent years and below the five year average of 423,040.
source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources