The 2012 Maryland Midwinter Waterfowl Survey found 633,700 waterfowl, which is slightly lower than the number of waterfowl observed during that time last year (651,800).
Each winter, during the January survey, pilots and biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) count ducks, geese and swans along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay shoreline and Atlantic coast.
Results from the Maryland survey is eventually merged with data from other states to provide a measure of the distribution and population size of waterfowl wintering in the Atlantic Flyway, according to Larry Hindman, DNR’s Waterfowl Project Leader.
Despite the unusually mild weather this year, the number of recorded waterfowl was only slightly lower than last winter. Overall, higher numbers of diving ducks were counted in 2012 (125,300) compared to last winter (115,100), mainly attributed to larger numbers of scaup.
In contrast, the canvasback totals this year (14,300) were much lower than last winter (46,100) and were the second lowest ever recorded. According to biologists, the lack of canvasbacks was likely related to the mild winter weather in the eastern half of the United States.
Survey teams counted slightly fewer Canada geese (342,600) along bay shoreline habitats compared to last year (397,700). Mild temperatures, an abundance of open water and a lack of snow in the northern portion of the Atlantic flyway caused a delay in goose migration and contributed to lower numbers of wintering Canada geese in Maryland. However, like canvasbacks, substantial numbers of Canada geese arrived in Maryland after the survey was done.
The Midwinter Waterfowl Survey has been conducted annually throughout the United States since the early 1950s. The survey provides information on long-term trends in waterfowl.
source: MD DNR