Waterfowl Migration

Waterfowl Migration Update December 19, 2013

The peak of the waterfowl migration has come and gone for some places, but for others now offers some of the best hunting of the year. The weather that most of the country has been without the past couple season set in last week and pushed the waterfowl migration southward. As the arctic airmass has now moved on, the question is what will ducks and geese do in response to moderating temperature and melting snow and ice.

Duck Migration

Large numbers of mallards have been reported in Oklahoma, Kansas, southern Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee. Over the weekend, many of these places were still fighting frozen water sources and ducks were confined to what open water was around. Most of the water sources are now thawing out and the snow in these areas has melted. With the new abundance of water comes the availability of new food sources. Large concentrations of ducks are hard to come by, but if you find a new food source they’re using, you’re in for a great hunt. Further north, some water is thawing out and there are still ducks all the way up into South Dakota. Even with sub freezing temperatures, the hardiest of the mallards are reluctant to push south without a substantial snow pack covering their food source.

Southern Illinois Waterfowl Migration Survey

Illinois River Waterfowl Migration Survey

Missouri Waterfowl Migration Survey

Goose Migration

The snow that fell across the Plains and Midwest last week pushed the goose migration into parts virtually unreached in a few years. Migrators were reported across Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and even some south of I-70 in Illinois. The fresh snow pack lead to lots of limits of geese for hunters along and north of I-70 through all of these areas. The southernmost geese will likely push back north as the snow line recedes, but they’re only one goose storm away from returning to these areas.

Specklebelly and Snow Goose Migration

The bulk of the specklebelly and  snow goose migration has entered it’s wintering grounds across Oklahoma, Texas, southeast Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisianna. Smaller numbers of geese are in southern Illinois, central Missouri, and Kansas.

The Week Ahead

A brief warmup is underway today. Temperatures are well above normal across many areas and a strong wind is blowing out of the south. There have been little reports of a reverse migration. Maybe tomorrow will be different, but it appears the bulk of waterfowl are staying put for the time being. A fresh coating of snow is forecast to fall across Kansas, northern Missouri, Iowa, and into Wisconsin. This should help to push ducks further south out of these areas and some geese should migrate as well. After this weekends system, the weather pattern looks to relax a bit as we enter the week of Christmas. There are currently no major systems forecasted and temperatures should remain around average.