New York State
Ornithological Association

For the birders and birds of the Empire State

Waterfowl Count 2000Last Updated 11/2/01
 

New York State Federation Waterfowl Count
January 2000

ABSTRACT

The Federation of New York State Bird Clubs' annual midwinter waterfowl count (FWC) was held 15-23 Jan 2000 with the target date being 16 Jan. The entire state was covered by approximately 280 observers, with all Regions completing their counts in the allotted time.

Canvasbacks photo © 2000 Kevin J. McGowan
Canvasbacks
Of the 44 species counted, 23 exceeded 1,000 individuals, and nine of these exceeded 10,000 each. Those top nine species, in order of abundance, were: Canada Goose, Mallard, Greater Scaup, American Black Duck, Common Goldeneye, Redhead, Canvasback, Brant and Common Merganser. Of these nine, three species showed >10% decreases and two showed >10% increases since 1999. The grand total of 382,516 individuals was up 3.0 percent from 1999, and 45.1 percent above the 27-year (1973-1999) average of 263,480

 

THE WEATHER

January 2000 began with two weeks of above normal temperatures across the state, with high temperatures in the 40s and 50s through 12 Jan. Cold weather hit with a vengeance on the 13th, with temperatures during the count period generally below freezing, including several days with highs in the single digits. The one mild day was the target date of 16 Jan with highs in the 30s and 40s. As a result of this weather pattern, many small inland waters were frozen, whereas larger lakes and coastal bays remained open to waterfowl use. Snowfall during January was meager except in the usual snow belt areas downwind of Lakes Erie and Ontario through the middle of the count period, when considerable amounts fell in most areas around 20 Jan.

 

THE COUNT

The grand total of 382,516 (Table 1) was up 3.0 percent from 1999, and 45.1 percent above the 27-year (1973-1999) average of 263,480. Counts of all species listed in Table 2 showed losses versus gains over 1999 to be 16 to 5.

Comparing 2000 to 1999 FWC figures (Table 2), the top ten species showed a 7 to 3 split in favor of decreases. Canada Goose (+51%) and Common Merganser (+26%) showed large increases, while Brant (-60%), scaup (both species; -36%), Long-tailed Duck (- 44%), and Ruddy Duck (-42%) showed large declines.

When comparing 2000 FWC figures with the 27-year (1973-1999) average (Table 3), there is a 9 to 4 split in favor of decreases. The overall total in Table 3 shows a large percentage increase over the long-term average with Canada Goose contributing hugely to this. It is encouraging that Common Merganser numbers have shown an increase over 1999, while it was not encouraging that scaup numbers decreased.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service midwinter waterfowl inventory report (Serie and Raftovich 2000) showed total waterfowl numbers in the Atlantic Flyway (Maine to Florida) down 11.9% from 1999, but 5.9% above the 10-year (1990-1999) average. Flyway counts indicated substantial declines from 1999 for many species, including Canada Goose (-16%), Mute Swan (-17%) Am. Black Duck (-18%), Mallard (-17%), Canvasback (-15%), scoters (- 23%), Long-tailed Duck (-60%), Common Goldeneye (-26%), mergansers (-27%) and Ruddy Duck (-17%), whereas Snow Goose (+24%) ,Redhead (+17%), Ring-necked Duck (+53%), and Bufflehead (+19%) increased substantially. However, most of these species were within ±15% of their 10-year averages, except Snow Goose (+70%). Canada Goose (+20%) scaup (-28%), scoters (-64%), Bufflehead (+33%), and Ruddy Duck (+70%). Concern about declines in scaup and sea duck populations have resulted in more restrictive bag limits for hunters in recent years.

 

FUTURE OF THE WINTER FWC COUNT

The FWC will be more important than ever in the coming years. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) plans to terminate their aerial survey of waterfowl wintering in New York State, after comparing results of the two surveys and concluding that the FWC provided comparable (and for some species, better) data for monitoring long-term population trends (Swift and Hess 1999).

NYSDEC will rely on the Federation count as its standard survey, and they have already become actively involved in compiling and reporting the annual data. It is essential now that member clubs and individuals maintain complete and consistent coverage of areas that they have surveyed in the past to ensure that results are comparable from year-to-year and over the long- term.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We wish to thank all of the approximately 280 observers who participated this year. A special thanks to the Regional Compilers who coordinated all those volunteers. Regional Compilers were:

Region Compiler Region Compiler
1 William Burch 6 Lee Chamberlaine
2 Gregory Hartenstein 7 John Peterson
3 Eric Donohue 8 Bryan Swift
4 Leslie Bemont 9 Michael Usai
5 Marge Rusk 10 Stephen Dempsey

 

 
NEXT YEAR

The 2001 Federation Waterfowl Count (FWC ) dates are from 13 through 21 Jan, with Sunday, 14 Jan, as the target

 

LITERATURE CITED

    Serie, J. R. and R. V. Raftovich, Jr. 2000. Atlantic Flyway Midwinter Waterfowl Survey 2000 - Final Report. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Migratory Bird Management, Laurel, MD 20708. 3 p.

    Swift, B. L. and P. J. Hess. 1999. A comparison of winter waterfowl surveys in New York. Northeast Wildlife 54:85-92.

 

 

Table 1. Regional totals for January 2000 Federation Waterfowl Count.

Species/Region 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Total Loon, Red-throated 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 24 246 270 Common 0 0 5 0 4 1 0 0 5 249 264 Grebe, Pied-billed 8 4 34 0 2 0 0 0 16 113 177 Horned 0 7 21 0 0 0 4 0 8 142 182 Red-necked 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 Cormorant, D.-crested 41 1 1 0 8 0 0 0 0 159 210 Great 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 43 169 214 Goose, Snow 0 0 120 0 0 0 606 10 1 200 937 Canada 4169 4603 33765 4281 11830 4971 3708 34721 15004 45948 163000 Brant 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 10682 10687 Swan, Mute 0 110 1 1 2 0 2 117 287 1186 1706 Trumpeter 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 Tundra 139 4 139 0 0 8 0 0 0 4 294 Wood Duck 5 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 9 13 31 Gadwall 47 31 81 0 14 10 0 0 34 1208 1425 Wigeon, Eurasian 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 American 35 6 25 1 3 0 1 0 154 1442 1667 Am. Black Duck 122 838 1234 201 193 289 478 722 1246 12584 17907 Mallard 6897 8941 6999 1779 3235 1029 2774 1872 3645 12343 49514 Mallard X Black 0 5 0 1 0 0 2 0 12 41 61 Blue-winged Teal 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Northern Shoveler 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 18 520 538 Northern Pintail 0 0 4 0 4 1 0 0 9 264 282 Green-winged Teal 0 2 5 0 0 0 0 0 10 597 614 Canvasback 7420 48 659 1 0 0 0 1000 780 1506 11414 Redhead 445 5125 6095 0 87 300 0 0 1 35 12088 Ring-necked Duck 25 41 176 1 127 0 8 3 345 489 1215 Tufted Duck 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Scaup, Greater 11965 1111 160 0 1906 2764 75 0 4849 6976 29806 Lesser 61 166 541 0 30 0 3 0 1285 671 2757 scaup species 0 1 91 0 0 16 300 1 0 88 497 Eider, King 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Common 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 411 412 Harlequin Duck 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9 10 Scoter, Surf 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4034 4036 White-winged 1591 87 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6456 8136 Black 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 371 373 scoter species 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1121 1121 Long-tailed Duck 3021 827 4 0 17 383 0 0 33 3014 7299 Bufflehead 833 176 315 0 98 132 106 0 875 6045 8580 Goldeneye, Common 2065 4838 1820 12 1103 2044 1311 401 187 1763 15544 Barrow's 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 Merganser, Hooded 29 37 22 10 26 6 47 41 261 1333 1812 Common 4034 1349 249 159 747 326 1553 588 1414 69 10488 Red-breasted 264 59 17 0 31 5 3 1 187 4554 5121 Ruddy Duck 2 2 2 0 6 0 0 0 1143 3999 5154 American Coot 89 532 1342 60 27 0 4 0 423 1226 3703 Unidentified 299 24 30 0 0 290 0 0 2304 16 2963
  TOTAL OF ABOVE 43607 28988 53962 6508 19502 12575 10985 39477 34613 132299 382516

 

Table 2. Comparison of the 2000 count with 1999 count for all species totaling over 1,000 individuals in 1999 or 2000, or both.

Species                   1999      2000   % Change from 1999
 
Snow Goose 1,544 ,937 -39.3 Canada Goose 108,029 163,000 50.9 Brant 26,700 10,687 -60 Mute Swan 1,871 1,706 -8.8 Gadwall 1,842 1,425 -22.6 American Wigeon 1,867 1,667 -10.7 American Black Duck 20,176 17,907 -11.2 Mallard 47,872 49,514 3.4 Canvasback 11,960 11,414 -4.6 Redhead 12,768 12,088 -0.5 Ring-necked Duck 1,407 1,215 -13.6 scaup (both species) 51,695 33,060 -36 scoter (all species) 13,951 13,666 -2 Long-tailed Duck 13,071 7,299 -44.2 Bufflehead 9,371 8,580 -8.4 goldeneye (both species)15,890 15,545 -2.2 Hooded Merganser 1,446 1,812 25.3 Common Merganser 8,338 10,488 25.8 Red-breasted Merganser 5,030 5,121 1.8 Ruddy Duck 8,834 5,154 -41.7 American Coot 3,779 3,703 -2
  TOTAL 367,441 375,988 2.3

 

Table 3. Comparison of 2000 count with 1973-1999 average for all species consistently totaling over 1,000 individuals annually.

Species                Average     2001  % Change
Canada Goose 69,459 122,223 76% Brant 15,109 8,038 -47% American Black Duck 19,826 17,356 -12% Mallard 32,376 47,122 46% Canvasback 10,652 24,584 131% Redhead 7,437 19,915 168% scaup (both species) 50,222 55,852 11% scoters (all species) 12,373 30,752 149% Long-tailed Duck 4,386 8,160 86% Bufflehead 6,077 10,025 65% Common Goldeneye 12,292 19,639 60% Common Merganser 11,461 9,464 -17% Red-breasted Merganser 4,282 8,058 88% TOTAL of all species 268,763 397,764 48%

Walton B. Sabin
652 Kenwood Avenue

Slingerlands, NY 12159-0044

Bryan L. Swift
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Wildlife Resources Center
108 Game Farm Road
Delmar, NY 12054-9767


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