Waterfowl Breeding Habitat Conditions As of March 31, 2024

A moisture data map shows the water conditions across the breeding grounds of North America.

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, significant portions of the Canadian prairies and parklands are concerningly dry. Nonetheless, there are pockets of moisture, and the crucial eastern Dakotas are expected to help compensate for potential low production in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Reports from Delta’s Predator Management trappers in the eastern Dakotas indicate decent, though not exceptional, conditions. Further, recent rains such as those on April 16—occurring after this report’s data collection window—have put additional shallow, duck-producing wetlands on the region’s landscape.

The recent rains also improved wetland conditions in much of Manitoba, where localized portions of the central and southeast regions are in good to excellent shape. In fact, some areas are so muddy that access proved challenging for our Predator Management trappers.

As with Manitoba, Saskatchewan received more winter precipitation than during recent exceptionally dry years. However, much more moisture is required before Saskatchewan and, farther west, Alberta can recover from their drought-induced water deficits.

The Great Lakes region appears relatively promising, particularly on the Canadian side. However, large areas remain affected by drought, including central Wisconsin, eastern 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