The goose migration is highly weather dependent. In most cases snow geese and specklebellies lead the goose migration south and the Canada geese stick it out up north as long as possible. The colder it gets, the further south the dark geese move.

Waterfowl Migration Update – December 1, 2015

Our latest waterfowl migration update has ducks and geese on the move south as cold and snow continues to effect a portion of the country. A swath of snow is currently falling across South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota which should continue to push birds south out of these areas, but unseasonably warm temperatures are on the horizon which could slow things up.

The weather system last weekend sent some new ducks south across portions of the Central and Mississippi Flyways. Snow fell over a large portion of Iowa and Illinois and a strong North and Northwest wind followed behind. Many new ducks arrived in portions of Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. Temperatures rebounded through last week and melted a large portion of the snow, but with a new system currently effecting some of these same areas, more ducks have been reportedly migrating into Kansas, Missouri, and Northern Illinois the past couple days. Large amount of precipitation has fallen south of the center of the low pressure systems and new food sources have opened up. Duck have scattered from their previous location, but hunters have reported some good success where they have been able to access these fresh resources. The continued weather that has included good winds and cooler than average temperatures the past few days has kept ducks active and success has been above average despite the full moon. The block of ice and snow in areas of South Dakota and Nebraska has continued to hold up the remaining mallards in North Dakota. Peak number continue to be reported there, but the season will soon be closing.

Large concentrations of geese are located across northern Illinois, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. These flocks are in areas they normally are this time of year. Some of the leading edge has pushed further south after the system last weekend, but with the weather upcoming, most should hold in the coming week.

The weather in the next seven days looks to moderate as we move toward the weekend. An abnormally warm pattern looks to emerge as we enter the first week of December. El Nino will continue to establish itself and warmer than normal temperatures will spread over a large portion of the country. This could have two effects: one being birds will bounce back north or they will hold with it being so early in the season. It’s hard to say exactly what will happen, but the only way to find out is to be out there to see.

Missouri Waterfowl Habitat Survey

Illinois Waterfowl Surveys: Illinois River Mississippi River Southern Illinois

Waterfowl Migration Update – November 23, 2015

The first winter storm moved across a good chunk of the Central and Mississippi Flyways late last week and finally sent a good Waterfowl Migration Updatewaterfowl migration to the south. Cold air filtering in behind the snow only helped to push many ducks and geese further south toward their wintering grounds and hunting success responded nicely as the system dropped up to 18 inches of snow. Temperatures look to rebound during the first half of this week, but a couple new systems look to move across the country as we enter next weekend.

Snow fell across South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Southern Wisconsin, and Northern Illinois this past Wednesday through Saturday. While there was no snow across most of Canada and North Dakota, many ducks and geese were forced to head south thanks to single digit lows and sub freezing high temperatures in these areas. Many bodies of water are now frozen solid with only small portions of large lakes and rivers remaining open. This was the first large push of birds in North Dakota this season. Hunting success had been sporadic up until the point, but now, peak numbers are located in many areas. In South Dakota, not only did temperatures plummet, but snow covered up many food sources for waterfowl. The same goes for Iowa, Southern Wisconsin, and Northern Illinois. Waterfowl in these areas were forced to head south as roost sources locked up and food was blanketed with as much as 18 inches of snow. Locations across Nebraska and Missouri saw a good push of waterfowl on Thursday and Friday. There were reports of just as many geese heading south as there were ducks. As the front finally moved through the Midwest on Saturday, flights of migrating waterfowl were reported across Illinois and hunting success was high for those that braved the wind and rain. The large storm system prevented many states from doing their weekly waterfowl surveys, but had they been able to do it, they would have noted increasing numbers of birds and for areas north of I70, mallard numbers are on the incline while many other species numbers will be headed down as the temperatures drop.

With that system now gone, we’re left with a good number of birds blocked in North Dakota thanks to the extensive snow pack that sits south of them. What’s left of the open water continues to freeze so finding birds might be a challenge, but any open water a hunter can find, will likely have birds on it. Look for large lakes and rivers when it gets this cold and you’ll likely have success in locating waterfowl. In these conditions, find fields they are feeding in and don’t push them off of what little available open water they have. With rebounding temperatures across much of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois, birds should remain in place through the weekend. The next system is set to start on Thanksgiving Day and continue into the weekend. There doesn’t appear to be a large push of cold air behind this front, but a chance of snow still exists on the backside of the system. Two or more inches of rain looks likely in parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. This will likely flood new areas and scatter birds out as new resources become available. We’ll also be dealing with a full moon this week. Combined with the warming temperatures, hunting success could drop compared to last week, but you never know what will happen unless you’re out there. Good luck this week!

Waterfowl Migration Update – November 15, 2015

Our first waterfowl migration update of the season can be characterized by one word: slow! Other than a few stretches, Waterfowl Migration Updatetemperatures across much of the United States and Canada have been above normal. Other than calendar migrators, large concentrations of ducks remain well north of where they normally are this time of year. However, things look to change in the second half of November.

Calendar migrators, which is mostly comprised of teal, pintail, shovelors, and young mallards have been sporadically reported across many areas of the country. As always, hunting success correlates with the weather. While these ducks have been gradually making their way south, a lack of weather to make them move has led to a lack of success for many hunters. Even though birds might be around, without something to force them to fly, they hang out in the sun on water all day. Many surveys from across the country have been running near normal to slightly above in areas north of I70 across the middle of the country. South of there, surveys are more spotty. A lack of rainfall and flooded food sources has left much of southern Illinois well behind their average numbers for this time of year.

A strong system is forecast to slowly move across the country this week and leave a ton of rainfall in it’s wake. Much of that rain looks to fall across Missouri and Illinois where it is needed. This should help fill the remaining areas in need of water and create some new ones. Unfortunately, the wet spring will limit the amount of food available across a lot of this area. There should be water for resting and roosts, but food sources are going to be limited. This has limited the number of calendar migrators that have stayed for more than a day or two. An abundance of these duck have already made their way south where food is more readily available. This week’s weather system will help set the stage for a second system early next week that could possibly finally usher in colder air and kick the migration into gear. It’s too early to tell exactly when and where, but next week’s front has the potential to spur a good migration and improve hunter’s success across a large portion of the country. Hopefully the large concentration of mallards that are currently residing in southern Canada will get a nudge south into the US.

Illinois River Survey – Mississippi River Survey

We’ve had some early success so far this season. Be sure to check out our first couple videos for Realtree: “The X” as well as our debut episode of Hard Core Waterfowl TV.

Waterfowl Migration Update – December 31, 2014

We’re now entering 2015 and a lot of waterfowl hunters are glad to see December of 2014 in the rearview mirror. After a month of little to no waterfowl migration, arctic air has finally come back into the midwest and central United States and waterfowl are back on the move. How long the cold will last is anyones guess, but it’s best to take advantage of it now while we have it and the waterfowl migration is back in swing.

Duck Migration

Normal to above normal temperatures and little in the way of winter weather had the duck migration virtually stalled for the better part of 7 week. Locations that picked up ducks back in the first half of November still had the same ducks up until the past few days. Hunting success had been poor at best in most places from Nebraska, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Many season are now closed and more will in the coming week. Luckily, for the homestretch of a lot of ducks hunting seasons, fresh birds made a move the past few days with the cold front. New migrations of mallards have been spotted from northern Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. There has also been an influx of new ducks into Oklahoma and Arkansas. Locations in Arkansas remain dry, but where there is water, there are ducks. A new weather system looks to effect areas along and south of I70 at the end of the week and into the weekend. Rainfall amounts across much of Arkansas could exceed an inch and will be welcome by duck hunters. Further north, there should be a swath of snow by the weekend from central Kansas into northern Illinois. The precipitation could further push ducks into southern Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois, while the rainfall across Arkansas could lead to fresh food sources and thinning out the concentrations of ducks where there is currently water.

Canada Goose Migration

Just as the duck migration has been on hold, so has the Canada goose migration. Areas that were having great hunts this time last year, have yet to see much if any northern Canada geese migrate in. Good numbers of geese have remained across the Dakotas, northern Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. While the fresh cold could push some south, the lack of snowfall in these areas will likely lead the geese to stay put for now.

Snow Goose Migration

The snow goose migration has been in full swing with the mild temperatures over the past 10 days. Large concentrations of snows moved north last week and made it all the way into the Illinois River Valley and locations around Squaw Creek. The snow goose migration last week resembled something seen in mid February! Luckily, the new cold snap should force quite a few of them back south closer to their wintering grounds. Even without snow cover north of I70, many of the snow geese will make a move back south to get away from the cold. Their not as hardly as the northern mallards and Canada geese, but all it will take a a brief warmup for them to move back north.

The Week Ahead

The weather in the coming week looks to stay around normal or slightly below. The weekend system should lay a narrow band of snow down, but a lack of snow cover will remain in certain locations all the way into the Dakotas and Minnesota. The cold weather should continue to create more and more ice on large bodies of water and a trickle of migrating waterfowl could continue into next week.

Waterfowl Migration Update – December 10, 2014

The weather pattern has been stagnant over the past week and the waterfowl migration is pretty much at a standstill. Other than birds shifting on a local basis as food sources come and go, there has been no large scale migration other than some calendar birds that tend to migrate at or around the same time every year. It’s mid-December and typically places should be getting colder as we move toward Christmas, but the opposite is true this year as we continue this crazy roller coaster of weather.

Waterfowl Migration Update

Duck Migration

In the past week, places that have had good concentrations of ducks have continued to have them. Locations such as southeast Nebraska, southwest Iowa, northeast Kansas, and northwest Missouri as well as Arkansas have been loaded with ducks since mid-November. Most of these birds have been heavily pressured and know where they’re safe in these areas. Hunting has continued to get tougher and tougher even with the large number of birds. A few calendar ducks have made moves into locations across the central US and there have been spotty reports of success. As we move closer to the weekend, temperatures are forecasted to climb well above normal in most locations. While this isn’t typically what duck hunters ask for this time of year, most will gladly take it since it could possibly make ducks think about migrating back north. There have already been reports of birds starting to trickle back the past two days as the warmup has started. Just how many will ride the south wind in the 50 and 60 degree temperatures is always the question. Is it too early in the year for a mass movement north? We’re not even to the Winter Solstice and days are short. Ducks know this, but over the past few years they’ve seemed more and more antsy to return back north.

Goose Migration

Just as the duck migration has been stagnant, so has the Canada Goose migration. Good numbers of geese are in their usual wintering locations across the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. There are also pockets of large numbers in Nebraska and Kansas. The key to the big geese is getting nasty cold weather to get them to fly inside of legal shooting hours. Most days this past week have been mild and combined with the full moon, geese have been flying late in the afternoon. Goose hunters will need more winter like weather to move in to increase the success of their hunts.

Snow Goose Migration

If the activity of the snow goose migration the past few days is any indication of the impending warmup, then this weekend we could see a good migration of waterfowl northward. The past three days there has been snow geese moving back north in Missouri and Illinois. The weather hasn’t been all that conducive to this movement with clouds, little wind, and temperatures in the 30s, but the snow geese know the weather on the horizon and they’re always eager to head back north. As the winds start to pickup and the warmup fully gets under way, look for more snows to make this move. In past experiences, when the snow geese make a jump, the ducks typically aren’t far behind.

The Week Ahead

The weather so far in 2014 has been anything but normal. A mild start followed by an arctic cool down had the waterfowl migration move from 0 to 60 in just a few days. Since then the weather has really stabilized and other than waterfowl making small moves there really hasn’t been much large scale movement. While the weather coming in the next 7 days isn’t the typical dream forecast, at this point, most duck hunters will welcome it with open arms as it looks to at least force some ducks to migrate into new areas. As we move into next week, the weather pattern looks to become more active with a parade of storms effecting the country. One or two of those is bound to link up with cold air and lay some snow down forcing yet another good waterfowl migration.

 

Be sure to check out our new Tip Video for Realtree where we discuss some late season hunting tactics.