Annual Survey Estimates Number of Wintering Duck, Geese, and Swans

News Release, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Annapolis, MD- In early January, aerial survey teams of pilots and biologists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources made visual estimates of the ducks, geese, and swans along most of the state’s Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River, and Atlantic coast shorelines. This year, the teams counted about 627,000 waterfowl, which was higher than the 566,300 birds observed during 2019, but lower than the five-year average of 738,440 birds.

“The abundance and distribution of wintering waterfowl are influenced not only by the annual changes in population size, but also the weather conditions during migration and throughout the winter,” said Wildlife and Heritage Director Paul Peditto. “Moderate winter weather up and down the east coast has allowed most waterfowl species to remain spread out across Maryland and our surrounding states.”

Overall, the number of dabbling ducks was higher (93,000) than last winter (64,400). However, fewer diving ducks (149,700) were observed than in the 2019 survey (182,000). Biologists also counted more Canada geese this year (327,200) than last year (250,200). Following 2018’s record low hatch, Atlantic Population Canada geese benefited from normal spring weather conditions on their nesting grounds in 2019, leading to average gosling production.

The Midwinter Waterfowl Survey has been conducted annually since the early 1950s and covers most of the tidal shoreline and near-shore waterfowl habitat in Maryland.

Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Results 2016-2020
Rounded to the nearest hundred

Species20162017201820192020
Mallard41,80045,30064,30039,00056,000
Black Duck19,20025,50038,30017,20021,000
Gadwall3,20011,2003,1004,80010,800
Widgeon5001,4007001,2001,100
Green-winged Teal2,4002,1005001,5002,000
Northern Shoveler1001000100300
Northern Pintail2,6002,3001,1006001,800
Total Dabblers69,80087,900108,00064,40093,000
Redhead17,90020,70027,50020,60010,600
Canvasback19,80075,10060,00046,00046,900
Scaup91,800138,80045,30072,10059,000
Ring-necked Duck7004003001,1003,000
Goldeneye1,100700100100300
Bufflehead26,70012,90029,50013,20011,400
Ruddy Duck88,00035,00024,50028,90018,500
Total Divers246,000283,600187,200182,000149,700
Scoters7,1004,9004,50027,8005,700
Long-tailed Duck1002,7000300200
Mergansers1,1002,1002,3002,0002,300
Total Ducks324,000381,200302,000276,500250,900
Brant1,000900400900900
Snow Goose32,60021,30063,50034,70040,900
Canada Goose293,800394,700641,000250,200327,200
Tundra Swan11,20014,50016,4004,0007,100
Total Waterfowl663,000812,6001,023,300566,300627,000

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...