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.

Recommended for You


Horseradish Duck Burger Recipe

Scott Leysath

Ready to grill up some delicious, juicy waterfowl burgers? This Horseradish Duck Burger Recipe...

For Dogs

Dog Discipline Tips & Gear

Joe Genzel - June 20, 2019

Take it from a pro: Less is more.


Sweet JalapeƱo Grilled Duck Recipe

Scott Leysath, "The Sporting Chef"

The sweet, tangy flavor of orange juice combined with spicy jalapeƱos in this duck recipe will...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Picking a Puppy

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

Browning A5 Shotgun - 'Gun Stories'

Gun Stories host Joe Mantegna talks about the origin and history of the Browning A5 shotgun.

Eastern Alberta Waterfowl Hunting

Tom Gresham and guests experience an incredible waterfowl hunt on the plains of eastern Alberta, Canada.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


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...

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...


Best Waterfowl Shotguns of 2018

John Taylor - September 25, 2018

Author John M. Taylor has broken down the top waterfowl shotguns for the 2018 season.

See More Stories

More Conservation


Read & React: Are Duck Migration Patterns Changing?

David Hart - October 14, 2014

Waterfowl hunters love conspiracy theories. "How else can you explain the growing number of...


2015 Wildfowl Forecast

P.J. Reilly - October 14, 2015

Keep riding the wave, folks. Nothing good lasts forever. Biologists fear there's a crash in...


3 Midwest States to Offer New Experimental Teal Season in 2014

Charlie Puckett - August 21, 2014

Midwestern waterfowlers looking to scratch their early-season teal itch in Michigan,...

See More Conservation

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


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