U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Releases 2013 Duck Numbers

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Releases 2013 Duck Numbers

So you've been thinking about starting your own Duck Dynasty? It's a wonderful time to be a waterfowler.

Turns out, water equals waterfowl. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its 2013 duck numbers last week, which indicate a wet winter and a wet spring across the northern breeding grounds have led to an escalation in duck numbers again this year — for the third year in a row. While overall numbers are just slightly down from last year — about 3 million total, from 48.6 to 45.6 — they are still far above historical norms, 33 percent above the long term averages since 1955, according to Fish and Wildlife Service.

Old frosty-top is the star this year, with the American wigeon up 23 percent from last year with an estimated 2.6 million birds. Mallards are holding strong at 10.4 million (10.6 million greenheads last year), and only bluebill are singing the blues, with scaup down 20 percent overall. Canvasback are up slightly, and still above averages since the '50s, but remain far below long-term historical norms and management objectives.

But all is not just ducky. The good news is slightly misleading in one regard: Waterfowl habitat is being destroyed at an ever-increasing rate due to the spike in corn prices, particularly in the prairie pothole region.


"We must maintain our focus on protecting and restoring important habitat across the birds' range in order to see these kinds of numbers in future wet years," said Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall.


As corn has escalated in price, wetlands, swamps, even hardwood groves and boreal areas critical to duck production are being drained, burned, bulldozed and planted in. New hybrid corn is being developed that can grow in places it traditionally could not. — Skip Knowles

Check out a breakdown of the 2013 populations by species; numbers courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

American Wigeon

The American wigeon was one of two species that saw a population increase from 2012 to 2013, jumping up 23 percent. Populations were slightly better than the long-term average at just 2 percent.

2012 Population: 2.145 million
2013 Population: 2.644 million
Percent change from 2012: +23 percent
Percent change from Long-Term Average: +2 percent

Blue-Winged Teal

Blue-winged teal saw the second-highest drop in population in 2013, falling 16 percent from 2012. But blues aren't singing the blues just yet, with populations up 60 percent over the long-term average.

2012 Population: 9.242 million
2013 Population: 3.053 million
Percent change from 2012: -16 percent
Percent change from Long-Term Average: +60 percent

— Photo by Bill Marchel

Canvasback

Canvasback populations saw positives across both categories: The population increased by 4 percent from 2012, and beat the long-term average by 37 percent.

2012 Population: .760 million
2013 Population: .787 million
Percent change from 2012: +4 percent
Percent change from Long-Term Average: +37 percent

— Photo by Gary Kramer

Gadwall

Gadwall populations followed a similar trend as mallards, down 7 percent from 2012. However, those numbers are still far above the long-term average; in fact, with a 86-percent difference, gadwall took the second-highest percent change of the 10 species surveyed.

2012 Population: 3.586 million
2013 Population: 3.351 million
Percent change from 2012: -7 percent
Percent change from Long-Term Average: +80 percent

— Photo by Bill Marchel

Green-Winged Teal

Green-winged teal populations fell about 12 percent from 2012, but the numbers are still beating the long-term average by 51 percent.

2012 Population: 3.471 million
2013 Population: 3.053 million
Percent change from 2012: -12 percent
Percent change from Long-Term Average: +51 percent

— Photo by Tom Martineau

Mallard

Mallard populations are down slightly from 2012 — though it's only a slight decrease, down 2 percent from last year. However, greenheads are still well above the long-term average, up 36 percent.

2012 Population: 10.602 million
2013 Population: 10.372 million
Percent change from 2012: -2 percent
Percent change from Long-Term Average: +36 percent

— Photo by Charlie Long

Northern Pintail

Northern pintail numbers took a slight dip from 2012, down 4 percent, but the species also tied for the biggest drop from the long-term average, down 17 percent.

2012 Population: 3.473 million
2013 Population: 3.335 million
Percent change from 2012: -4 percent
Percent change from Long-Term Average: -17 percent

— Photo by David Stimac

Northern Shoveler

Northern shoveler populations saw a slight 5-percent decrease from 2012, but outdid the rest when it came to the long-term average, up 96 percent.

2012 Population:5.018 million
2013 Population: 4.751 million
Percent change from 2012: -5 percent
Percent change from Long-Term Average: +96 percent

— Photo by David Stimac

Redhead

Redhead populations took a slight dip from 2012, dropping just 5 percent, but had the third-highest increase from the long-term average, up 76 percent.

2012 Population: 1.270 million
2013 Population: 1.202 million
Percent change from 2012: -5 percent
Percent change from Long-Term Average: +76 percent

— Photo by Jim Thompson Jr.

Scaup (Greater and Lesser)

Bad news for scaups — both greater and lesser. These birds saw the biggest population drop from 2012 — down 20 percent in 2013 — and along with pintails, tied for the biggest drop from the long-term average, down 17 percent.

2012 Population: 5.239 million
2013 Population: 4.166 million
Percent change from 2012: -20 percent
Percent change from Long-Term Average: -17 percent

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Puppy Training Getting Started

Puppy Training Getting Started

Puppy Training Getting Started

Women

Women's Waterfowl Lineup

SITKA Gear waterfowl product manager Jim Saubier shows off the company's full line-up of women's waterfowl hunting gear for 2019. From warm and moisture-wicking base layers to water and windproof outer layers, this is a complete system for women who love to chase fall and wintertime ducks and geese across the four flyways!

Picking a Puppy

Picking a Puppy

Wildfowl contributor Mark Romanack shares advice about choosing your next retriever.

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during 2019, company CEO Charlie Holder shows off the limited edition Yentzen Classic aimed at commemorating the life and times of company founder Jim 'Cowboy' Fernandez. With a special autographed box and a laser engraved call body, the Cowboy Classic is a perfect way to honor the legacy of the 1959 world duck calling champ and inventor of the double-reed duck call.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during 2019, company CEO Charlie Holder shows off the limited edition Yentzen Classic aimed at commemorating the life and times of company founder Jim 'Cowboy' Fernandez. With a special autographed box and a laser engraved call body, the Cowboy Classic is a perfect way to honor the legacy of the 1959 world duck calling champ and inventor of the double-reed duck call. Calls

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

Lynn Burkhead - January 28, 2019

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during...

Let's face it, that old mud motor from two years ago isn't cuttin' it any longer.

Of course, it Boats

8 Best Mud Motors for 2016

David Hart - May 26, 2016

Let's face it, that old mud motor from two years ago isn't cuttin' it any longer. Of course,...

While there's no guarantee they'll make you a better shot, these 8 newly-designed shotgun choke Accessories

8 Best Choke Tubes for 2017

Wildfowl Online Staff - October 25, 2017

While there's no guarantee they'll make you a better shot, these 8 newly-designed shotgun choke

SITKA Gear waterfowl product manager Jim Saubier shows off the Bozeman, Montana company's full line-up of women's waterfowl hunting gear for 2019. From warm and moisture wicking base layers to water and windproof outer layers, this is a complete system for women who love to chase fall and wintertime ducks and geese across the four flyways! Clothing & Waders

New SITKA Women's Waterfowl Lineup for 2019

Lynn Burkhead - January 28, 2019

SITKA Gear waterfowl product manager Jim Saubier shows off the Bozeman, Montana company's full...

See More Trending Articles

More Conservation

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has now released their much anticipated 2018 duck numbers report. Conservation

BREAKING: 2018 Duck Numbers Down, Still Healthy

Lynn Burkhead - August 21, 2018

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has now released their much anticipated 2018 duck numbers...

Don't lose your ducks! Managing the predator population has been proven to boost bird numbers. Conservation

Predator Control to Boost Bird Numbers

Brad Fitzpatrick

Don't lose your ducks! Managing the predator population has been proven to boost bird numbers.

We discuss whether this tactic is just a competitive advantage or if it's killing our sport. Conservation

Is Hunting Waterfowl in Flooded Corn Fair Chase?

David Hart - February 27, 2019

We discuss whether this tactic is just a competitive advantage or if it's killing our sport.

Mallards are masters of avoiding hunting pressure. Conservation

Are Mallard Ducks Becoming Nocturnal?

David Hart

Mallards are masters of avoiding hunting pressure.

See More Conservation

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Wildfowl subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now