New York State
Ornithological Association

For the birders and birds of the Empire State

Waterfowl Count 2001Last Updated 11/2/01
 

New York State Federation Waterfowl Count
January 2001

ABSTRACT

The Federation of New York State Bird Clubs' annual midwinter waterfowl count (FWC) was held during January 13-21, 2001 with a target date of Sunday, January 14. The FWC includes loons, grebes, cormorants and coot, in addition to true waterfowl (ducks, geese and swans). The entire state was covered by approximately 250 observers, with all Regions completing counts on time.



Greater Scaup photo © 2000 Kevin J. McGowan
       Kevin McGowan photographed this very        cooperative
Greater Scaup in Tompkins County.

Weather conditions were generally favorable and a total of 397,764 birds (46 species) were documented. The total count was an all-time high, up 4% from 2000, and 48% above the 28-year (1973-2000) average. The top 10 species, accounting for 87% of the total, were: Canada Goose, Greater Scaup, Mallard, Canvasback, Redhead, Common Goldeneye, American Black Duck, White-winged Scoter, Surf Scoter, and Bufflehead. High counts of many diving duck species contributed to the record total count.

 

THE WEATHER

Official weather data for January 2001 were not readily available for all areas of the state. However, regional compilers reported generally favorable conditions during the counts, with fair weather, temperatures in the 30s (colder up north, warmer on Long Island) and calm or light winds on most days. The count period was preceded by several weeks of relatively stable weather, with little precipitation and temperatures well below freezing at night. Snowfall during January was light in most areas, but snow cover from storms in December remained in many areas through the count period. As a result of this weather pattern, many smaller inland waters were frozen, whereas larger lakes and coastal bays remained open to waterfowl use.

 

THE COUNT

A total of 397,764 birds, comprising 46 species, were counted in 2001 (Table 1). This established a new record high count since the FWC began in 1955. The 2001 total was 4% above 2000 and 48% above the 28-year (1973-2000) average of 268,763. In general, counts of geese were down from a year ago, counts of most dabbling ducks were similar between years, and counts of most diving duck species increased dramatically (Table 2). Record high counts were reported for Canvasback, Redhead, Surf Scoter, Bufflehead and Red-breasted Merganser.

 

Comparison of 2001 counts with 28-year (1973-2000) averages shows 10 of 13 major species or taxa above average, led by Mallard, various diving ducks, and Canada Geese (Table 3). Brant, Black Duck and Common Merganser were all below average.

 

Total waterfowl numbers in the Atlantic Flyway (Maine to Florida) were up 5% from 2000, and were 10% above the 10-year (1991-2000) average (Serie and Raftovich 2001). Flyway counts indicated that most species were within ±10% of their 10-year averages, except Bufflehead (+14%), scaup (-15%), eiders (-35%), scoters (-58%), Long-tailed Duck (-45%), mergansers (-14%) and Canada Goose (+45%). The unusually high counts of diving ducks in New York were not observed throughout the Atlantic Flyway, suggesting that high FWC counts were due in part to short-term distributional shifts rather than population increases.

 

Highlights of regional reports included unprecedented numbers of Canvasback, Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck and Red-breasted Mergansers on the Niagara River and Lake Erie near Buffalo (Region 1), Barrow's Goldeneye on the Oneida River (Region 5) and on Long Island Sound near Oak Neck (Region 10), and two Harlequin Ducks near Staten Island (Region 10).

 

FUTURE COUNTS

The FWC is especially important now that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has discontinued aerial surveys of waterfowl wintering in New York. DEC concluded that the FWC provides comparable or better data for monitoring long-term population trends (Swift and Hess 1999), so they now rely on the FWC as its standard survey. It is essential that member clubs and individuals maintain complete and consistent coverage of areas surveyed in the past to ensure that results are comparable from year-to-year and over the long-term.

For the planners among you, future counts are scheduled as follows:

2002 - January 12-20 (target date - Sunday, January 13);
2003 - January 11-19 (target date - Sunday, January 12); and
2004 - January 10-18 (target date - Sunday, January 11).
 
 
For more information about the FWC, visit the Federation's Waterfowl Count page.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I wish to thank all of the approximately 250 observers who participated this year. A special thanks to the following Regional Compilers who coordinated all those volunteers:

Region Compiler Region Compiler
1 William Burch 6 Jerry LeTendre
2 Greg Hartenstein 7 John M. C. Peterson
3 Eric Donohue 8 Bryan Swift
4 Les Bemont 9 Michael Usai
5 Marge Rusk 10 Ronald & Jean Bourque

 

LITERATURE CITED

Serie, J. R. and R. V. Raftovich, Jr. 2001. Atlantic Flyway Midwinter Waterfowl Survey 2001 - Final Report. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Migratory Bird Management, Laurel, MD. 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 2001 Federation Waterfowl Count.

See Region Map (popup)

Species/Region 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Total
 
Loon, Red-throated 2 14 174 190 Common 4 1 4 9 3 404 425 Yellow-billed 0 Grebe, Pied-billed 7 2 22 5 1 41 78 Horned 28 283 7 1 20 1 12 387 739 Red-necked 1 3 4 Eared 1 1 Cormorant, D.-crest 65 1 2 1 168 237 Great 33 266 299 Goose, White-fronted 0 Snow 6 1 21 28 Canada 1,292 2,953 64,364 910 2,463 25 14 528 8,630 41,044 122223 Brant 205 7,833 8038 Swan, Mute 6 98 9 6 5 2 99 350 1,109 1684 Trumpeter 2 2 Tundra 144 2 107 253 Wood Duck 39 3 1 6 1 2 1 19 72 Gadwall 38 93 13 2 1 78 1,292 1517 Wigeon, Eurasian 1 1 American 7 11 18 1 172 1,518 1727 Am. Black Duck 178 272 2,286 89 332 74 314 226 871 12,714 17356 Mallard 7,199 6,479 9,324 414 4,041 233 2,000 1,678 4,590 11,164 47122 Mallard X Black 6 6 1 2 5 69 89 Blue-winged Teal 1 1 2 Northern Shoveler 12 2 224 238 Northern Pintail 3 1 4 4 6 77 95 Green-winged Teal 3 1 6 318 328 Canvasback 22,612 56 270 83 1,563 24584 Redhead 1,056 2,086 15,979 4 681 109 19915 Ring-necked Duck 5 8 106 1 17 9 10 52 359 567 Tufted Duck 0 Scaup, Greater 20,957 2,261 734 619 30 2 69 30,016 54688 Lesser 76 80 27 19 2 2 6 376 588 not to species 174 220 182 576 Eider, King 0 Common 4 4 Harlequin Duck 1 2 3 Scoter, Surf 1 13,748 13749 White-winged 528 227 63 15,777 16595 Black 1 290 291 not to species 117 117 Long-tailed Duck 5,692 971 5 515 200 33 744 8160 Bufflehead 673 235 281 168 14 141 444 8,069 10025 Goldeneye, Common 3,129 4,435 1,924 4 2,828 1,232 3,105 186 194 2,602 19639 Barrow's 1 1 2 Merganser, Hooded 46 6 26 5 43 14 45 105 1,134 1424 Common 2,671 1,124 770 178 1,588 1,257 995 130 587 164 9464 Red-breasted 4,202 196 56 135 2 1 121 3,345 8058 Ruddy Duck 2 1 3 113 2,371 2490 American Coot 136 134 1,924 35 9 2 83 685 3008 Unidentified 1,000 15 10 44 1069
TOTAL OF ABOVE 71801 21950 98542 1651 13798 3095 6645 2863 16869 160550 397764

 

Table 2. Comparison of the January 2001 and January 2000 counts for selected waterfowl species.

Species                   2000     2001  % Change
 
Snow Goose 937 30 -97%
Canada Goose 163,000 122,223 -25%
Brant 10,687 8,038 -25%
Mute Swan 1,706 1,684 -1%
Gadwall 1,425 1,517 6%
American Wigeon 1,667 1,727 4%
American Black Duck 17,907 17,356 -3%
Mallard 49,514 47,122 -5%
Canvasback 11,414 24,584 115%
Redhead 12,088 19,915 65%
Ring-necked Duck 1,215 567 -53%
Greater Scaup 29,806 54,688 83%
scoters (all species) 13,666 30,752 125%
Long-tailed Duck 7,299 8,160 12%
Bufflehead 8,580 10,025 17%
Common Goldeneye 15,544 19,639 26%
Hooded Merganser 1,812 1,424 -21%
Common Merganser 10,488 9,464 -10%
Red-breasted Merganser 5,121 8,058 57%
Ruddy Duck 5,154 2,490 -52%
American Coot 3,703 3,008 -19%
 
TOTAL of all species 382,516 397,764 4%

 
Table 3. Comparison of the January 2001 count with 1973-2000 average for all species averaging 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%

Bryan L. Swift
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-4750


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