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A Migration Record

Annual waterfowl survey counts one million birds 

       Ducks, geese and swans spending time along Maryland’s coasts and shorelines are caught in a migratory traffic jam. Each winter, aerial survey teams of biologists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service make visual estimates of these waterfowl. This year they counted about 1,023,300 waterfowl, well above the 812,600 birds observed during 2017 and higher than the five-year average of 851,980.
      Just as Old Man Winter plays havoc with your own travel plans, the same applies to migrating species. 
      “Cold weather and accompanying ice and snow to our north will typically push birds south as they search for food and open water,” says Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto. “The more severe that cold weather is, the more dramatic migrations to more southerly locations can be.”
      So to them, we must be south. 
      Overall, dabbling ducks were higher (108,000) than last winter (87,900). Diving duck numbers (187,200) were lower when compared to last winter’s abundance (283,600).
      Most abundant are Canada geese. This year’s count of 641,200 is the highest since the survey began in 1955, topping the 1981 record of 608,000. An above average hatch by the Atlantic, or migratory, population Canada geese, coupled with an influx of resident Canada geese from states to the north of Maryland, most likely account for the record high count.
      Results of the annual Maryland Midwinter Waterfowl Survey are ultimately pooled to provide a measure of the distributional changes and long-term trends of waterfowl wintering in the Atlantic Flyway.