Waterfowl Migration Update
The cold fronts moved through as advertised, but they didn’t bring the mass migration that many of us thought it would. There were a few birds that moved south with the first front on Friday. Since that cold front, temps have been cool and more birds have trickled in. The latest front moved through Monday and coupled with the full moon on Tuesday, more reports of southbound waterfowl have accumulated. It’s not the type of waterfowl migration where everyone reports great hunting with new birds, but some have had good luck in the past few days.
The cold weather we’ve enjoyed over the last few days will be short lived as the latest warming trend commences. Waterfowl hunting success will be hard to come by this weekend with temperatures in the upper 60s and clear skies. In the places holding ducks, the birds will likely loaf all day with no need to feed extensively. There are hints of the next cold front in the middle of next week. Let’s hope it holds true. This pattern of 3 days of cold followed by 5 days of warm is getting old. Just when hunting starts to get going, it grinds back to a halt with unseasonably warm temperatures. As a whole, I’d say we’ve had more “cold” days already this year than last year, but we’ve been plagued with nearly the same warmth as last season. We can only hope that winter truly sets in and takes hold in December to get the waterfowl migration going.
Waterfowl migration numbers in Illinois continue to be ahead of their averages for the most part. The percentage of mallards on survey sites continues to rise compared to the last surveys. The amount of teal still in the central and northern part of the state tells us that the waterfowl migration is still in it’s early stages through Illinois. Their numbers are declining, but just like last year, many people will be killing teal into December. The number of birds in southern Illinois has declined from last week, but is still above it’s long term average.
Waterfowl migration numbers in Missouri have not been updated yet, but from the sounds of reports, they’ve experienced the same movement as we have here in Illinois. A slow trickle of birds coming in over the past week has increased numbers. Mallard percentages continue to increase as earlier migrators work their way south.
Snow Goose Migration
Snow goose numbers are on the rise across much of the central US. Many birds are already in portions of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Each north wind day seems to send more birds south. Hopefully this year, winter will get cold enough to force all of the snow geese to migrate south of us before their return trip north.
Atlantic Flyway Waterfowl Migration
We just returned from a trip to Michigan with Muddy Dog Outdoors hunting divers on Lake Erie. The cold front that swept through the midwest late last week brought thousands of divers into Lake Erie. We were only up there for a couple days, but the number of birdsaround was impressive. Sunny skies and calm winds hurt our success, but we still killed a few while layout boat hunting. The full moon allowed these birds to move the entire night. During the day, they spent most of their time in large rafts 10+ miles out in the lake. As the full moon fades, daytime activity and hunting success should increase.
Central Flyway Waterfowl Migration
Levi Daniel of C&L Outdoors
“Last Friday brought us a cold front, which we expected to bring new birds with it. But we couldn’t have been more wrong! Our local conservation area was holding close to 100k birds and lost them with the front with no new birds behind them. The hunting over the weekend washer of the same for us; slow days in the blind trying to coax stale birds into the decoys. We were able to scratch a few out here and there but nothing to really speak of. It’ll happen eventually, it always does.”
Bill Witt of Bag’Em Outdoors
“Cold temperatures have moved a lot of the ducks out of the southern part of
North Dakota, but goose numbers are still high. Thanksgiving was a good
weekend, we limited out 2 out of 3 days of hunting, with the cold
temperatures and high winds birds seem to commit and reacted to calling
well. Most of the bodies of water are frozen over, but a few large still
remain holding most of the geese in the area, with no snow cover and plenty
of feed as long as the large water’s stay open the geese should hold.”