Staff from Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) conducted the annual Midwinter Waterfowl Survey on January 8 and 9, 2014. The survey is conducted throughout the Atlantic Flyway, and is used as an index of long-term wintering waterfowl trends.
In Connecticut, the survey is conducted from a helicopter and a census is obtained from the coast, the three major river systems, and selected inland lakes and reservoirs.
Survey conditions for the 2014 Midwinter Waterfowl Survey were excellent, with extremely cold weather preceding and during the survey. Large blocks of ice were present on all three of the major rivers (Thames, Connecticut, Housatonic), most inland waterbodies were frozen, and many coastal marshes were icebound.
The total number of ducks observed during the survey was 19,375. This is higher than both the five-year and 10-year averages. The puddle duck count of 10,141 was twice the recent five-year average of 4,734, and well above the 10-year average of 3,700.
The scaup count was the highest since 2011 but still below historical counts. Atlantic brant numbers were lower than in previous years, while Canada goose counts were the highest since 1994.
Following a recent trend, many puddle ducks (particularly mallards) were observed in urban sanctuaries, often associated with supplemental feeding activities.
“The Department discourages citizens from feeding waterfowl for a number of reasons, including increased risk of disease transmission, potential for poor nutrition, and a clouding of the real issue facing waterfowl and wildlife in general in Connecticut – loss of suitable habitat,” said Rick Jacobson, Director for the DEEP Wildlife Division.
A brochure entitled, “Do Not Feed Waterfowl” outlines potential hazards of feeding waterfowl. The document is available on the DEEP website at: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/wildlife/pdf_files/game/NoFeedWF.pdf.
source: Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection