Monthly duck count reaches 1.62 million

More than 1.6 million ducks were using Louisiana’s marshes and swamps as of yesterday (Nov. 11), state biologists reported.

The total of 1.62 million birds is 20 percent higher than last November,” Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Larry Reynolds told today.

That sounds like good news, but last November was pretty poor at only 1.34 million birds in the state. However, this month’s count was still slightly higher than the five-year average of 1 ½ million ducks.

That said, this year’s latest count is still 20 percent below the long-term average of 2 million ducks.

Gadwall were the most-abundant birds, with 610,000 packing into the state. This was followed by an estimated 466,000 blue-winged teal.

The number bluewings combined with only 40,000 divers and 49,000 greenheads indicate the main migration still hasn’t begun.

“Although we have an average number of ducks in the state relative to the last five years, large numbers of blue-winged teal with low numbers of diving ducks and mallards suggest we are still very early in (the) migration,” the report shows.

While Southwest Louisiana continues to hold the most ducks, the largest increase from last year was seen in Southeast Louisiana and at Catahoula Lake.

The 491,000 ducks found in Southeast Louisiana was far higher than during any of the past three years. Only 160,000 ducks were counted in this region last November, with 200,000 found there in 2008 and 170,000 estimated in 2007.

Particularly large concentrations were seen in Caernarvon and Delacroix, with masses of blue-winged and green-winged teal present. Also, Delta National Wildlife Refuge and Pass-a-Loutre Wildlife Management Area held a lot of pintails and gadwalls.

Biologists credited the habitat, which is in generally excellent condition with good water conditions and increased submerged aquatic vegetation over recent years.

Numbers for Southeast Louisiana were:

• Bluewings – 170,000
• Gadwall – 107,000
• Greenwings – 82,000
• Pintails – 49,000
• Mottled ducks – 34,000
• Shovelers – 9,000
• Mallards – 6,000

In Catahoula, the estimated 209,000 ducks was the highest count since 1999, when 270,000 were found in this area. Total counts for the lake were:

• Gadwall – 34,000
• Blue-winged teal – 4,000
• Pintails – 106,000
• Greenwings – 12,000
• Mallards – 25,000
• Shovelers – 106,000
• Wigeon – 2,000

Southwest Louisiana continues to hold the majority of birds, with 909,000 dabblers and another 6,00 divers found in that part of the state.

On top of the list there was gadwall, which constituted 469,000 or 51 percent of the total in Southwest Louisiana.

Other species, in descending order of population, found in those marshes and fields were:

• Blue-winged teal – 292,000
• Green-winged teal – 55,000
• Mottled ducks – 31,000
• Shovelers – 22,000
• Mallards – 18,000
• Pintails – 14,000

Another 5,000 scaup and 1,000 ringnecks were counted there.

In addition, 119,000 ducks and 56,000 geese were counted in selected areas of Northeast Louisiana. This is about the same number of ducks and slightly more geese than last November. However, habitat was generally dry across this portion of the state.

The most-abundant ducks in the available habitat in Northeast Louisiana were pintails, followed by mallards and shovelers.

Northwest Louisiana held another 10,200 ducks, which primarily concentrated in the locks, lakes, oxbows and fields along the Red River and upper Toledo Bend.

About Andy Crawford 863 Articles
Andy Crawford has spent nearly his entire career writing about and photographing Louisiana’s hunting and fishing community. While he has written for national publications, even spending four years as a senior writer for B.A.S.S., Crawford never strayed far from the pages of Louisiana Sportsman. Learn more about his work at www.AndyCrawford.Photography.