Maryland's Midwinter Waterfowl Survey 2022 results released

Annual survey of winter ducks, geese, and swans

Posted 3/1/22

In early January, aerial survey teams of pilots and biologists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) made visual estimates of the ducks, geese and swans along most of the …

You must be a member to read this story.

Join our family of readers for as little as $5.99 per month and support local, unbiased journalism.


Already a member? Log in to continue.   Otherwise, follow the link below to join.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Maryland's Midwinter Waterfowl Survey 2022 results released

Annual survey of winter ducks, geese, and swans

Posted

In early January, aerial survey teams of pilots and biologists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) made visual estimates of the ducks, geese and swans along most of the state’s Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River. and Atlantic Ocean coastal shorelines. This year, the teams counted about 563,800 waterfowl, lower than the 627,000 birds observed in 2020, and below the most recent five-year average of 718,600 birds. The 2021 Mid-Winter Survey was not flown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Winter distribution of waterfowl is influenced by many factors,” Maryland DNR Wildlife and Heritage Director Paul Peditto said. “Global weather patterns, food availability, habitat quality, prevalence of ice, and the population status of each species all play a role in how many birds we count and where we count them.”

Overall, dabbling ducks increased in number this year compared to 2020, as did pintails and green-winged teal, which likely reflected the mild fall temperatures. Likewise, generally mild winter weather likely led to fewer diving ducks being observed than in the 2020 survey. 

Hunter reports suggest that late arriving winter weather moved more scaup, canvasbacks, and redheads into the Chesapeake Bay region after the survey was completed. Biologists counted more Canada geese – 361,100 – than the 2020 survey, which counted 327,200. DNR considers this a hopeful sign that flyway wide harvest restrictions for Atlantic Population (AP) geese are working.

The Midwinter Waterfowl Survey has been conducted annually since the early 1960s, and covers most of the tidal shorelines and near-shore waterfowl habitat in Maryland. These numbers are not population estimates, but offer an annual “snapshot” view of how waterfowl use of important nearshore habitats changes over time.

Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Results 2017-2022 (no survey conducted in 2021)

Rounded to the nearest hundred

Species

2017

2018

2019

2020

2022

Mallard

45,300

64,300

39,000

56,000

53,500

Black Duck

25,500

38,300

17,200

21,000

24,600

Gadwall

11,200

3,100

4,800

10,800

6,800

Widgeon

1,400

700

1,200

1,100

300

Green-winged Teal

2,100

500

1,500

2,000

6,900

Shoveler

100

0

100

300

900

Pintail

2,300

1,100

600

1,800

4,600

Total Dabblers

87,900

108,000

64,400

93,000

97,600

Redhead

20,700

27,500

20,600

10,600

7,000

Canvasback

75,100

60,000

46,000

46,900

7,700

Scaup

138,800

45,300

72,100

59,000

29,500

Ring-necked Duck

400

300

1,100

3,000

2,100

Goldeneye

700

100

100

300

100

Bufflehead

12,900

29,500

13,200

11,400

10,600

Ruddy Duck

35,000

24,500

28,900

18,500

22,400

Total Divers

283,600

187,200

182,000

149,700

79,400

Scoters

4,900

4,500

27,800

5,700

1,300

Long-tailed Duck

2,700

0

300

200

100

Mergansers

2,100

2,300

2,000

2,300

1,400

Total Ducks

381,200

302,000

276,500

250,900

179,800

Brant

900

400

900

900

200

Snow Goose

21,300

63,500

34,700

40,900

13,600

Canada Goose

394,700

641,000

250,200

327,200

361,100

Tundra Swan

14,500

16,400

4,000

7,100

7,400

Total Waterfowl

812,600

1,023,300

566,300

627,000

563,800

Licenses, stamps, and permits may be purchased online by phone at 855-855-3906, at a Natural Resources Service Center or at any one of the more than 250 Sport License Agents statewide.

Hunters with questions may contact the Maryland DNR Wildlife and Heritage Service at 410-260-8540.

Readers and donors make this story possible.
You can help support non-partisan, community journalism.