In early January 2022, aerial survey teams of pilots and biologists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) made visual estimates of the ducks, geese, and swans along most of the state’s Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River, and Atlantic Ocean coastal areas.
The annual Midwinter Waterfowl Survey covers tidal shorelines and near-shore waterfowl habitat in Maryland. The 2021 Mid-Winter Survey was not flown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, the teams counted about 563,800 waterfowl, lower than the 627,000 birds observed in 2020, and below the most recent five-year average of 718,600 birds.
Overall, dabbling ducks increased in number this year compared to 2020, as did pintails and green-winged teal, which likely reflected the mild fall temperatures. Likewise, generally mild winter weather likely led to fewer diving ducks being observed than in the 2020 survey.
Hunter reports suggest that late arriving winter weather moved more scaup, canvasbacks, and redheads into the Chesapeake Bay region after the survey was completed.
Biologists counted 361,100 Canada geese during the 2022 survey, as compared to 327,200 birds in 2020. DNR considers this a hopeful sign that flyway wide harvest restrictions for Atlantic Population (AP) geese are working.
The Midwinter Waterfowl Survey has been conducted annually since the early 1950s. 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