Follow the duck migration with hunting videos and weekly migration reports.

Waterfowl Migration Update – November 26, 2014

The latest waterfowl migration update has ducks and geese scattered from South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all the way to the gulf coast. After a brief moderation in temperatures over the weekend, another strong cold front has pushed through the midsection of the country and right on it’s heels is an Alberta Clipper. A lot of the ice that formed 10 days ago has thawed out in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska with the mild temperatures and rainfall over the weekend. Waterfowl have responded by heading to the fresh resources and a few southward flight birds have been noted the past couple days riding the strong northwest winds behind the front.

US Snow Cover November 26th

Duck Migration

Large concentrations of mallards are still finding open water in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota. The large rivers still have open pockets that are loaded with ducks. Further south, large numbers of mallards are in northern sections of Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. Great successful has been had in corn fields in these areas. The cold weather has forced birds into the energy packed cornfields and this should continue in the near future. These areas have the highest numbers of mallards with a few other species mixed in. More on the number of waterfowl in Missouri can be found here on this migration update provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation. There is also a large number of mallards as far south as Arkansas. South of I70 in Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois, numerous other species are mixed in with the mallards.

Canada Goose Migration

Canada geese have been making their way into southern Minnesota and Wisconsin and as far south as Nebraska, Iowa, and northern Illinois. In these areas, find open water and you’ll find geese and more than likely, they’ll be there with ducks. Field hunting is your best bet, but if you can find a loafing pond with open water you could have a great hunt as well.

Light Goose Migration

The light goose migration has bounced back north the past few days as temperatures have moderated. During the cold spell, most snow geese and specklebellys had made their way into Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and Louisianna, but in the past 3 days, there have been reports of flocks streaming back north riding the south wind. The bulk of the migration is near it’s wintering grounds, but there area always a good number of geese that bounce back and forth along the snow/ice linen and they’ll continue to do so over the coming months.

After the clipper today, temperatures look to moderate across a large portion of the country. Highs this weekend should be well into the 50’s and even 60’s in areas south of I70 over the weekend. Right on the heels of the warmup is another strong cold front that looks to sweep across the country Sunday into Monday and that will be followed by another rebound of above normal temperatures. The Dakotas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin looks to stay at or below freezing over the next week. With all the back and forth in temperatures, the waterfowl migration could be very active the next week with ducks and geese bouncing back and forth with the huge range of temperatures. Be sure to check out our latest “The X” Tip Video for Realtree where we discuss how the weather effects the migration and give some strategies on hunting the changing conditions.

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.

Waterfowl Migration Update January 8, 2014

As we enter the tail end of the waterfowl migration, the weather continues to push birds into places unreached the past few years. The winter that keeps on giving has recently blanketed a large portion of the midwest in 6+ inches of snow and ducks and geese have been forced to migrate even further south that they already had. A coming moderation in temperatures coupled with weekend rains will lead to an expanse of resources and likely spread waterfowl over a much larger area than they are now.

Duck Migration

When it gets to this point in the season, many ducks located north of I70 are pretty much locked in place. These tend to be older birds that are tough and will stick it out to the end. There are still many ducks located in these areas thanks to warm water lakes and deep strip pits that have open water. Even with snow cover, these birds are resourceful and find ways to survive through these harsh conditions. In areas to the south, waterfowl have made a move. Ice has been noted across Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. This has pushed many ducks further south from these locations and concentrate what stayed. As open water decreases, birds move to look for more roosting areas. Those that remain are confined to river systems that have remained open. Field hunting has become the dominant tactic, but hunters show run ice eaters or break holes in small bodies of water are having success as well.

Goose Migration

Canada geese made a migration south on Monday after the snow stopped. Large flocks of migrating honkers were reported across many areas of Missouri and Illinois. Some stopped in areas along the Missouri River in Missouri as well as south central Illinois, but many continued on to get below the deep snow pack. Canada Geese were even noted as far south as the bootheel of Missouri, Kentucky, and Reelfoot lake. Crab Orchard, in Illinois, picked up thousands of geese on Monday. While it’s not quite like it was back in the glory days, it way more geese than have been in southern Illinois in many years.

Snow Goose and Specklebelly Migration

A few light geese are still in Kansas, central Missouri, and central Illinois, but the vast majority have made their way to their wintering grounds in Texax, Arkansas, Louisianna, and Mississippi. What flocks were left to the north quickly made their way south riding the strong northwest wind on Monday.

Mississippi River Waterfowl Migration Survey – December 30th, 2013

Illinois River Waterfowl Migration Survey – December 30th, 2013

West-central Illinois Waterfowl Migration Survey – December 30th, 2013

Southern Illinois Waterfowl Migration Survey – December 30th, 2013

Missouri Waterfowl Migration Survey – December 31st, 2013

The Week Ahead

Temperatures through the rest of the week will moderate and and a rain system will help recede the snow line. With all of the rainfall and melting snow, available water sources will be vast. Instead of waterfowl being concentrated on areas of open water, they will spread out over the new resources just as they did a few weeks ago. This will make hunting much tougher as the ice melts. Couple this with the education they’ve received over the past 4 months, and late season hunting will be at it’s toughest as we enter the homestretch of the 2013-2014 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.

Waterfowl Migration Update December 5, 2013

A strong cold front is moving across the country with a pair of low pressure systems bringing a mix of wintery weather across much of the country. The wind, falling temperatures, and snow has waterfowl migrating hard across much of the Central and Mississippi Flyways. It’s not going to be a matter of will they migrate, it’s where will they stop.

Duck Migration

Starting on Tuesday, this system began to enter the Dakotas where many ducks were still present. Two to twelve inches of snow fell across the area and temperatures are in the teens to below zero. Last week, we talked about the abundance of mallards on the Missouri River in South Dakota. Nearly 900,000 ducks were surveyed there on November 26th. The latest survey from December 2 counted over 573,000 ducks. This survey was before the storm hit and from the reports out of Nebraska are numerous high flocks of mallards southbound. By next week, there should be very few ducks left in the Dakotas. When all is said and done with this first storm, the snow line will be from western Nebraska through southern Minnesota, and Wisconsin. A second band of snow and ice will be across Oklahoma, southerm Missouri/Illinois, and northern Arkansas.


Projected Snow Cover by Saturday December 7th

The arctic front associated with this system is currently across Arkansas, Tennessee, and western Ohio. Most locations in northern Oklahoma, northern Arkansas, and Illinois will not climb above freezing for the foreseeable future. A second system looks to drop snow across Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and northern Illinois starting on Sunday bringing the snow line even further south. The way things are setting up, there could be a gap in the snow field or at least an area where snow cover is at a minimum from north-central Illinois through western Missouri and into southeast Kansas. The waterfowl migration will be in full swing over the course of the next week.


Projected Snowcover by Monday December, 9th.

Projected Snowcover by Monday December 9th.

Southern Illinois Waterfowl Migration Survey

Illinois River Waterfowl Migration Survey

Mississippi River Waterfowl Migration Survey

Missouri Waterfowl Habitat Discussion


Goose Migration

Large number of dark geese have been migrating through the Central Flyway. Migrating geese have been noted in the same locations as the ducks. Geese are more apt to ride out cold weather and snow as long as they have a food source. Look for some, but not all to come out of the Dakotas, central Minnesota and central Wisconsin. By next week, look for geese to be in good numbers across Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and into central Illinois.

Snow Goose/Specklebelly Migration

Just as the ducks and dark geese have been migrating, so have the light geese. Large numbers have been noted across Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas. The cold weather should continue to move them south into Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisianna.

The Coming Week

The question is where will everything end up after these two systems are done? River and field hunting across much of the middle of the country should be great. If there is open water and minimal snow cover there will be ducks. The cold weather will continue to lock up bodies of water and where snow has fallen, it will likely stick around. By early next week, even larger lakes should start to freeze up. Feeding patterns should be easy to figure out due to the cold weather and field hunting will be hot as waterfowl need the carbs for energy. If you are a duck or goose hunter this next week could be filled with lots of birds and little sleep!