Partial aerial waterfowl survey: SW Louisiana shows fewest birds on record

The partially completed November aerial waterfowl survey shows the lowest number of birds on record for Southwest Louisiana.
The partially completed November aerial waterfowl survey shows the lowest number of birds on record for Southwest Louisiana.

Full November report may not be completed due to weather; poor flying conditions

Lines of strong thunderstorms, an approaching cool front and a couple mornings of heavy fog conspired this week to put a dent in Larry Reynolds’ flight plans. 

The waterfowl study leader for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries typically takes to the air the week before opening day in the Coastal and West Zones to estimate the number of birds on 28 transect lines positioned all across the coast.

This week, however, he and his crew only were able to cover the 17 most western lines because of weather issues, basically from the Texas/Louisiana line to Marsh Island. 

What he saw wasn’t what hunters are hoping for this weekend when the season kicks off Saturday morning.

“The 247,000 total ducks estimated in Southwest Louisiana is the lowest on record for this survey, and is less than half the next lowest estimate of 581,000 in 2013,” Reynolds wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon. “The most recent 10-year average for Southwest Louisiana on this survey is 994,000.

“The most recent 10-year November averages for Southwest Louisiana are: gadwalls (463,000), green-wings(145,000), blue-wings (175,000), pintails (51,000), and shovelers (83,000).”

This week’s survey estimated only 96,000 gadwall, 10,000 green-wings, 67,000 blue-wings, 5,000 pintails and 37,000 shovelers.

Reynolds continued: “This November’s Southwest Louisiana estimates for gadwalls and green-wings have never been lower.  In the last 10 years, estimates for blue-wings and shovelers have only been lower once.  

“These data indicate there has not yet been a major migration into coastal Southwest Louisiana.”

Southeast Louisiana’s transect lines and the cruise survey of Catahoula Lake have not been flown as of now, and predicted weather for tomorrow and Friday indicates those flights might not happen before opening day, he said.

Patrick Bonin
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Patrick Bonin is the editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine and LouisianaSportsman.com.