Waterfowl Breeding Habitat Conditions As of April 30, 2024

Duck breeding conditions moisture map for April 30, 2024. Map shows that conditions are good in much of the prairie pothole region with drought still in Iowa and southern Minnesota.

Breeding conditions for ducks ahead of a critical nesting and brood-rearing period are inconsistent, at best, according to the most recently available data. While water levels in the prairie pothole region can change rapidly and recent strides have been made, significant portions of the Canadian prairies and parklands remain drier than average. Nonetheless, there are pockets of moisture, and the crucial eastern Dakotas are expected to help compensate for potentially low production elsewhere.

Reports from Delta’s Predator Management trappers in the eastern Dakotas indicate decent and steadily improving conditions. Rains in late April and early May put additional shallow, duck-producing wetlands on the landscape. In fact, some isolated flooding events occurred in South Dakota.

Those same rains advanced conditions in Manitoba, too, where portions of the central and southeast regions are in good to excellent shape. Some areas are so muddy that access proved challenging for Delta trappers.

Saskatchewan received more winter precipitation than it did during recent, exceptionally dry years. More moisture is needed to reach average breeding conditions, but Saskatchewan is making headway. Farther west, Alberta remains at a more severe, drought-induced water deficit.

Fortunately, there’s still time. Hopefully the recent, consistent precipitation continues to improve conditions in the PPR.

The Great Lakes region appears relatively promising, particularly on the Canadian side. However, large areas remain affected by drought, including western Michigan, Iowa, and southern Minnesota.

In the Atlantic Flyway, conditions are good to excellent throughout nearly all of the eastern survey area, which bodes well for eastern mallards and black ducks. 

Out west, the mallard-producing state of California is in fantastic shape. And Alaska’s river deltas, including the critical Yukon region, are in excellent condition for pintails and other breeding ducks.  —Mike Buxton