The goose migration is highly weather dependent. In most cases snow geese and specklebellies lead the goose migration south and the Canada geese stick it out up north as long as possible. The colder it gets, the further south the dark geese move.

Waterfowl Migration Update November 8, 2013

The south central waterfowl hunting zone in Illinois opens up this weekend so it’s time to start our weekly waterfowl migration updates for 2013/2014. Expectations this year are high with the number of waterfowl surveyed over the summer and the cool start we’ve had to fall. Hopefully mother nature will continue to cooperate and this year will be a great year for waterfowl hunting.

Duck Migration

Waterfowl Migration 2013

A series of fronts over the past couple weeks has the duck migration in full swing. Pintails, teal, and gadwall are numerous across much of Missouri and Illinois. There has even been a few positive reports out of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas of good numbers of ducks already this year. Pockets of mallards do exist across these areas as the calendar birds begin pushing south. The big groups of mallards that every waterfowl hunter dreams of are currently across the southern tier of Canada and the Dakotas. Temperatures are dipping below freezing at night and small bodies of water are icing up only to thaw during the day as temps rise above freezing.

Snow Goose/Specklebelly Migration

Light geese are strung out from the Dakotas all the way to Arkansas just as the ducks are. A good number of migrating geese and specklebellies have been moving through our part of Illinois this week and should continue to do so in the future as large concentrations have still been reported all the way to the Canadian border.

Canada Goose Migration

The leading edge of migrating Canada geese have been noted across the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Let’s hope this year us “southerners” get a crack at them after missing out the last two years.

Next Week’s Weather

The weather this week looks to continue the waterfowl migration southward. A storm system from the north-northwest will move across the central plains and midwest during the middle of the week. Colder temperatures and even snow are being talked about. It doesn’t appear to be a huge system that will blanket a large area, but could leave a narrow band of snow in it’s wake.  The drop in temperatures should lock up bodies of water in Canada and many areas in North Dakota other than the rivers. Snow cover is missing all the way across the border into Canada, but as water freezes some birds will move south.  As cold air and snow cover begin to build in central Canada, it looks to be only a matter of time before the waterfowl migration gets into full swing as we approach the winter months.

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


Be sure to check out our “Sizzle Reel” for the upcoming season 2 of Fowled Reality.


Waterfowl Migration Update January 10, 2013

Wild swings in temperatures has affected the waterfowl migration over the past week. We’ve gone from inches of snow cover across much of the southern portion of the state, to 60 degrees and sun just days later. Many small waters that were locked up are now thawing out and many ducks and geese have been noted heading back north with warming temperatures across much of the central United States.

Duck Migration

Waterfowl Migration OklahomaMost of the duck hunting zones in Illinois and Missouri are now closed, but many ducks remain. As the season closed in the south-central zone, if you had open water, you were killing ducks. It was a great end to the season for many duck hunters across the area. Further south where the season is still open, many ducks are still around and with the warm weather and thawing ice, many reports of a reverse waterfowl migration are popping up. The bounce back should be short lived as an arctic front and possible winter storm are slated for Sunday. Canada Geese and Snow Geese should follow along with the ducks with the coming weather.

Goose Migration

For the first time in two years, there is a huntable number of Canada Geese across much of central Missouri and Illinois. Not a ton of geese, but enough to mess with if you can find a good concentration. Patterns are tough to get on because of the swings in temperatures, but with sustained cold looking to move in, early next week should provide solid feeding patterns to hunt.Waterfowl Migration Missouri The key is to locate the “X” with the number of geese that are around. Hunting off of the field they’re using might yield a little success, but there isn’t hardly enough geese around to make it worth while.

Snow Goose Migration

With highs nearing 60 yesterday, many snow geese were northbound. Look for that trend to continue tomorrow with highs in the mid 60s and a 15 mph south wind.  Many snow geese will ride the wind and warmth north. Concentrations of snows have been noted across power plant lakes in Illinois, but the bulk of the snow goose migration has moved south of I70 which is good news for the Spring Conservation Season.

Illinois River Waterfowl Migration Survey, Mississippi River, Southern Illinois, Missouri

Waterfowl Migration Update – December 21, 2012

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.


Waterfowl Migration Update – December 14, 2012

Waterfowl Migration Update

Just as fast as the waterfowl migration picked up, it slowed right back down. Large numbers of ducks and snow geese headed south with the cold front earlier this week. We were hunting on the Missouri river and watched flock after flock of birds headed south wind and cold weather. Success was reported all over the Mississippi Flyway on Monday, but just as quick as they showed up, they left across portions of southern Illinois. Blame it on whatever you want, but the latest waterfowl migration decided southern Illinois wasn’t for them.

From the reports we’ve been getting and the latest surveys, the birds seem to be sticking to the rivers more than normal. The drought this past summer has left many areas dry. The only water sources that haven’t dried up are the main rivers through the flyway. Waterfowl seem to be holding tight to areas along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers through Illinois. The drought allowed many state and private areas to get food planted and natural vegetation to germinate across the

Snow Geese in Arkansas

areas. For the waterfowl migration, food is just one piece to the puzzle. Without water, waterfowl do not have places to roost and loaf. Areas along major rivers seem to be having the most success. Outside of the major rivers, birds seem to be moving through very quickly until they reach areas with abundant food and water sources. This past weekend we were in Arkansas in 70 degree temperatures. The mosquitos were abundant and so were the waterfowl. Even with the warm season we have experienced so far, the number of ducks and geese is incredible. On Saturday, not 1 minute passed without at least 50 birds in the sky. We attribute this to the numerous flooded rice fields and timber in the area. Birds have the resources needed to make it through the winter months. They’ve learned that over the years and they know where to go when the time comes.

In the week ahead, no strong weather systems are forecasted to effect the Mississippi Flyway. The snow that fell last week is getting hit was warmer temperatures and the snow line is receding northward. While snow geese and ducks gradually make their migration south, the Canada Geese are a ways from making it down yet. The abnormal weather of last season has continued into this year.

Southern Illinois Waterfowl MigrationIllinois River, and Mississippi River.

Waterfowl migration numbers in Missouri have not been updated this week, but from what we’ve been told a large influx of birds has came into the northern part of the state. With only a short time remaining in the north zone season, now is the time to get after them.

Central Flyway Waterfowl Migration

Bill Witt of Bag’Em Outdoors

North Dakota

decoy bags“The recent cold front has moved nearly all waterfowl out of the state.”