For the first time in what seems like forever a large bowling ball type winter storm has spurred a waterfowl migration across a large chunk of the county. The storm dropped 6+ inches of snow across portions of Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin sending waterfowl southward. Even places in northwest Illinois picked up a few inches of wind driven snow. The next storm in the long range is forecasted to hit Christmas day and the day after. If it lines up with where snow has already fallen, look for the waterfowl migration to continue to pickup.

Duck Migration

Early this past week, hunting was slow, but the waterfowl migration began to pickup on Wednesday ahead of the storm. Places like Kansas and Oklahoma began to pickup birds as the system pulled together. On Thursday, the storm continued east and birds began moving out of Iowa and extreme northern Missouri. The 40 mph sustained north wind allowed them to hightail it south. With the storm now to the east, reports of southward moving waterfowl have continued today. Some Waterfowl Migrationbirds held tight yesterday in the wind and snow, but the sunny skies and north wind today have them on the move across Missouri and Illinois. The snow and freeze line birds have finally been forced to move. Areas north of a line from Kansas City, MO to Peoria, IL are not forecasted to get above freezing for the next 7 days. Water should continue to freeze and ducks should continue to migrate south over the coming days. The majority of the birds around in Illinois and Missouri are Mallards with a few puddle ducks and divers in the mix.

Only the Illinois and Mississippi River waterfowl surveys have been posted for Illinois.

Mississippi River Waterfowl Migration Survey, Illinois River, and Missouri

Goose Migration

The arrival of sustained cold weather and snow should begin to force Canada geese to migrate along with the ducks. It’s going to take more weather than what we’ve had to force them south, but what we have received is a start. Since Canada Geese are tougher than ducks, it’ll take more snow and less open water to really force them south. The weather we have received thus far is probably more winter than most places experienced all of last year. Migrating Canada Geese have been reported across Iowa and northern Illinois in great numbers. Hopefully the next weather system will continue to make them move south.

Snow Goose Migration

The majority of the snow geese have moved into Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and points south. This was about their furthest southward push last year. Unlike last year, when the spring conservation season started with many snow geese north of us, this is starting to look more promising. Good numbers of birds are in Illinois and Missouri if you’re willing to put forth the effort to hunt them without the use of an e-caller.