Waterfowl Migration

Waterfowl Migration Update January 24, 2013

Waterfowl Migration SurveyWaterfowl Migration SurveyWaterfowl Migration

As the regular waterfowl hunting season begins to draw to a close across the country, we are going to begin to shift our focus on waterfowl migration reports toward snow geese. The wild swings in temperature over the past week has many ducks and geese yo-yo-ing back and forth. The weather over the next few days looks to continue that trend.

 Duck Migration

Waterfowl MigrationDuck season is now closed across most states. Those that are still open, will end this weekend. With no major weather system forecasted across the country, ducks will likely not make any large scale migrations as the season ends. Areas that are currently frozen should stay that way, and little if any new water should freeze over the last few days of the season. Large numbers of ducks have been noted across their typical wintering grounds across the southern tier of the United States.

We recently hunted late season mallards with C&L Outdoors in Southwest Missouri. Late season birds are call/decoy shy. Our success was attributed to light calling and small decoy spreads. At this point in the year, waterfowl have seen and heard it all. Mix it up, give them a different look, and only call as a last resort.

Goose Migration

For the second year in a row, the lack of snow cover has left many wondering where the Canada Geese are. Areas like central and south-central Illinois and Missouri picked up a few honkers shortly after Christmas when they migrated as a brief cold snap was accompanied by some snow. Shortly after, temperatures warmed and the snow melted which sent the leading edge of the Canada Goose migration back north. Since then, no notable waterfowl migration of Canada Geese has occurred.

Snow Goose Migration

Snow Goose MigrationWe are quickly approaching the Spring Snow Goose Conservation Season. Unlike last year, it appears as though most of the snow geese have migrated south of I70 across Missouri and Illinois. There have been a few reports of birds north of that line, but not many. Warm temperatures last weekend led to a northward waterfowl migration of snow geese, but many quickly returned south as single digits lows impacted many locations across the Midwest. One of the keys aspects of the snow goose migration is the snow line. True snow cover can’t be found until you reach South Dakota and Minnesota. Snow geese will typically push north until they reach the snow line. With the snow line that far north, look for snow geese to begin to push north quickly as we begin to make our transition to warmer temperatures. Of course, the snow line is subject to change quickly if any weather systems move through. The one aspect that might hold them for the time being is the cold temperatures and frozen water. Cool to seasonable temperatures are forecasted for much of the Midwest through the weekend, but then a warmup is forecasted for early in the week. This could send birds north on Monday and Tuesday in time for the opening of the Conservation Season on February 1st in Illinois and Missouri. As is the case with snow geese, the leading edge of birds is typically all adults. Hunt at your own risk!

Southern Illinois Waterfowl Migration Aerial Survey


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