waterfowl migration

Waterfowl Migration Update January 24, 2014

The waterfowl migration has pushed further south than it has in years. The brutally cold winter across much of the plains and midwest has continued and with no end in sight, many ducks and geese will continue to hold up on their wintering grounds.

Duck Migration

The brief warmup last week led to some ducks migrating back north into northern Kansas, central Missouri, and central Illinois, but many quickly returned back south as single digits temperatures moved back in. Wintering grounds such as Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana continue to hold the bulk of the ducks. Ice has become an issue in many of these locations, but places with open water are holding tons of birds. Concealment is key since these ducks have been hunted since September.

Goose Migration

Canada Geese made a push back north, but have since been in a holding pattern. Good numbers of geese remain as far south as central Missouri and southern Illinois. What a difference a year makes when comparing Canada Goose numbers across Illinois. At this time last year, only 5,000 were surveyed in the southern part of Illinois. The combined snow cover and cold temperatures have this week’s survey near 70,000 honkers.  The key to success is getting the weather to hold stable and get the geese patterned. The extreme cold has them conserving energy, but with a warmup on Sunday, activity may be above what has been seen over the past week.

Southern Illinois Waterfowl Migration Survey

Missouri Waterfowl Migration Survey

Snow Goose and Specklebelly Migration

The adult snow geese know it’s getting close to time and have began trickling back north. Small groups have been reported in central Illinois and Missouri, but the bulk have remained south of these areas. Good specklebelly goose hunting success is still being had across Arkansas and Louisiana as they continue to hold on their wintering grounds.

The Week Ahead

As most waterfowl hunting seasons wind down this week, look for most waterfowl to stay near their current locations. Another arctic front is forecast to move across the country late in the weekend and into early next week. Some of the coldest temperatures of the year are being forecasted. Ice will continue to be an issue across many areas and with no sustained warmth in sight, the return migration will be put on hold until the weather pattern breaks. This will be our last waterfowl migration update focusing on ducks and dark geese. We will now be moving our focus on to snow geese over the coming two months.