2024 Maryland Midwinter Waterfowl Survey

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lesser scaup ducks
Lesser Scaup Drakes

In early January, aerial survey teams of pilots and biologists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) conducted their annual population estimates of ducks, geese, and swans along the state’s Chesapeake Bay, tidal Potomac River, and Atlantic coast shorelines.

This year, the teams counted about 593,200 waterfowl which was lower than the 632,200 birds observed in 2023 but consistent with the most recent five-year average of 596,500 birds.

Overall, dabbling duck numbers (91,300) were similar to the 2023 count of 93,600 birds. While the number of mallards (45,100) and black ducks (24,200) were close to their respective 5-year averages (50,800, and 21,760), the number of green-winged teal counted in 2024 (17,500) was much higher than recent years.

The 2024 mid-winter survey was conducted during the first two weeks of January, just prior to the cold weather that occurred later in the month. The timing of the survey flights likely led to lower diving duck counts than in 2023 (190,300).

Biologists counted 350,500 Canada geese in the 2024 survey effort which was slightly higher than both the 320,800 geese counted in 2023 and the 5-year average (321,960).

The Midwinter Waterfowl Survey has been conducted annually since the early 1960s and covers most of the tidal shorelines and near-shore waterfowl habitat in Maryland. The Maryland survey results are ultimately pooled to provide a measure of the distributional changes and long-term trends of waterfowl wintering in the Atlantic Flyway.

source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Related Information

Chesapeake Bay Waterfowl


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