Because of  my personal interests in both waterfowl and computers, I have put together various bits of data on waterfowl harvest and banding recoveries.  It exists in spreadsheets, charts, and thematic maps.  While I am always thinking of some other angle or perspective that I’d like to explore, the basic layer of it is done and available as a long list of grouped links on my homepage.   This is fine but really doesn’t say anything or give the reader much of a way to get into it.  I wanted to try to take a look at it and make some effort to summarize it and show the reader at least one structured way of moving through most of it.  Where to start and where it will go  in terms of analysis seems like an open question, so I expect this to be an ongoing “work-in-progress”.  In the meantime, this will have to do as a start.  I hope anyone that reads this will keep in mind that it is written by an old turkey hunter in the “off-season” and does not purport to be THE answer in any of its statements.  I’ve just tried to note the things that catch my eye and explain why I chose these charts and maps to create and how I would try to take you through them if I had to present them to you personally.  Any and all feedback is appreciated, but it’s way too late to make me into either a professional biologist OR writer, so I’m more interested in hearing what you’d like to see and your help in pointing out mistakes that I’m sure I’ll never find on my own.  E-mail should be sent to tuffye@ftc-i.net .


I should start by discussing the type of data being used.  Harvest estimates are based on those of the F&WS and can be expected to be questioned by some.  Still, it is the only data known to cover this area and will serve for our purposes of comparison and I very much  appreciate the effort they make in providing numbers for year-to-year comparisons.  The banding data is from a database compiled by the Bird Banding Lab of USGS and is most subject to my own errors of analysis and translation into Excel.  I’m certaily hoping not to get any letters from their legal department on the use of any of this data.  I believe it all to be in the public domain and I’m certainly not trying to do anything but encourage the public to make use of it and try to understand what some of it is saying.


With those preliminary comments out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the harvest data and see what it says to me and what it might say to you.  Links are included along the way and you should be able to return to the narrative by using the “Back” button on your browser.






The first thing that seems to help in cutting the subject down to some almost manageable size is to decide WHICH subset of waterfowl we want to look at.  By subset, we are referring to both species and some identifiable sub-population.  To identify species, we will look at some of the harvest data to try to decide which are the most “important” in that sense.  Simultaneously, it seems to make sense to identify which locations are most “important” in harvest terms.  If one believes that last season did not represent any drastic deviation from long-term harvest norms, we can use it as a baseline for exploring this thought.  Looking at the current 2007-2008 harvest estimates geographically yields this map.  The map shows that Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, and California clearly lead in total harvest.  When we add the species breakdowns by state, we end up with this chart. 


The states are listed on the bottom axis in something of a geographic pattern with the Pacific, Central, Mississippi, and Atlantic Flyways listed left to right.  The vertical axis shows the FWS harvest estimates for the 2005-2006 season.  The legend identifies the various column segment colors used for different species.  Note first the degree to which California, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana stand out in terms of total harvest.  Looking a little closer, we can identify secondary states in each flyway that are the local leaders.  For the Pacific, this would add Washington to our list.  The Central flyway would be North Dakota.  The Mississippi Flyway, because of it’s greater overall quantity may require the addition of more than one state.  Minnesota, Illinois, and Mississippi all seem to qualify for inclusion.  Finally, the Atlantic Flyway appears to be lead by North Carolina and South Carolina, although we can easily justify the addition of New York.  Keep in mind that we are, at this point, only looking at total harvests.  Later analysis of any particular species may change the states that we must include. 


So, what do we have so far?  We have identified twelve states across the four flyways as being most significant in terms of total harvest:  California, Washington, Texas, North Dakota, Louisiana, Arkansas, Minnesota, Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and New York.  These should allow us to dig a little deeper and identify which species we want to take a look at.  When we look at these states one at a time, we can now add the time dimension and take our first look in that way.  Keep in mind that we have harvest estimates for each year since the 1952-53 season.  The consistency of these estimates MAY be open to question as noted above, but it is what we have to work with at this point.  It should be enough to identify trends in both time and species, though. 


Note that an “Average” line is included in many of the harvest charts.  This is based on the Total Harvest divided by the Number of Hunters estimates.  This is intended to remove the “more-or-less” hunters question from the analysis.


We will now take a look at overall harvests of ducks in the continental U.S. and try to identify those areas and species that we may want to look at more closely.  Since there are some states that I have charted for one reason or another and don’t plan to discuss here, this might be a good place to just list those for readers that want to see where their own state fits in. These links will also be included in the analysis of their flyways but not discussed individually.


Alabama                      Colorado                     Delaware                     Florida                         Georgia                      

Idaho                           Indiana                                    Iowa                            Kansas                         Kentucky                   

Maryland                     Massachusetts             Michigan                     Missouri                      Montana                     

Nebraska                     New_Jersey                 Ohio                            Oklahoma                    Oregon                       

Pennsylvania               South_Dakota             Tennessee                    Utah                            Virginia                                  







The continental U.S. has traditionally been divided into four flyways.  When we take a look at the breakdown of total harvest across these flyways, we see the following chart.  This clearly shows the overall dominance of the Mississippi Flyway and seems to exhibit a cyclical appearance that we will talk more about in terms of specific states below.  What this chart does not give us is any sense of the relative importance of different species in these flyways.  For that we must take a closer look at individual states and come back to that question afterwards since  it might be anticipated that species will have varying importance in different parts of the country.  Still, while we are at this level of analysis, we might want to look at the mix of species in the total harvest across all four flyways as shown in this chart.  We can quickly note here that Mallards are the dominant species with the BW and GW Teal not far behind when combined.   Gadwall and Wood Ducks also show up as significant segments.  We can see some additional species, but we will wait to find out in which areas they are most significant. 


It should also be noted that the “Average” lines are on a strong upward trend in almost every state and the totals as we will see in the charts below.  This may very well be a function of the length of seasons, but I have not performed that analysis.  This does bring up an entire area of analysis that would have to include the number of hunters, which has also been very cyclical.  It’s not what I have been studying, but certainly deserves a closer look in the context of Harvest. 





The Pacific Flyway consists of Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, and parts of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.  As a group, the harvest in these states has been primarily composed of Mallards, Pintails, GW Teal, and Wigeon.  This total harvest exhibits a cyclical pattern over the period of our data. 


California:  California pretty well dominates the Pacific Flyway harvest.  Still, the charts show that there have been several significant shifts in harvest from year to year based on this data.  In fact, it is easy to seem to see a “cyclical” pattern here.  Keep this in mind as it is one that may very well be duplicated in other states as well.  In the case of California, our data seems to begin during an “up” period.  We can see an obvious “low” that seemed to begin quite suddenly during the 1959-60 season.  Then, we see a period of growth (with the occasional “poor” season mixed in) that seems to continue through the decade of the 60s and peak in 1970-71.  There is a gradual decline until 1988-89, which seems to be a rather abrupt decline.  The early 90s show an upward trend that is below the levels seen in the previous years.  The 1999-2000 season appears to have been the beginning of a 4-5 year downturn, but the last two seasons appear to represent a rebound. Individual species seem to follow this same cycle. 


Note that the “average” line seems to be consistent until we get to the last upward trend.  It appears that the fact that current levels are lower than previous highs MAY be the result of decreased numbers of hunters.  Averages would seem to be at their highest levels during this rise.  There is, of course, the matter of season length that I have not analyzed (Does anyone have the season lengths compiled by states over time?).


When the species are analyzed, it appears that Mallards, GW Teal, and Pintails are the most important species in terms of harvest in this state.  We might also note here that it may appear that the main cause of lower total harvest levels in the long-run has been the decline in Pintail harvest.  Mallard and GW Teal harvests are at or above the levels of the “up” years.


Washington:  Washington seems to show a very similar cycle to that seen in California.  However, there are a couple of differences to be noted here.  We can note that Mallards seem to be a much more significant share of the harvest in Washington, as do Wigeon.  The same statement about averages that was noted for California appear to exist here, too; they are up in recent years and may represent a decline in hunter numbers and/or longer seasons.


Pacific:  Overall the Pacific Flyway looks a lot like California.  Low points were seen around 1960 and 1990.  Averages seem to be on the rise during recent years as hunter numbers have declined.  (See Pacific_Hunters. )   What we seem to leave this flyway with is a recognition of the possible importance of Mallards, Pintails, GW Teal, and Wigeon.





The Central Flyway is currently considered to consist of, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South_Dakota, Texas, and parts of Montana, Wyoming , Colorado, and New Mexico.  As a group, these states display the same cyclical characteristics as the Pacific, although it may be more pronounced here.  The harvest is quite diverse with the Mallard clearly dominant, but strong segments of BW Teal, GW Teal, and, in recent years, Gadwalls.


Texas:  Texas appears to be quite dominant in the Central Flyway.  Again, we see the same appearance of a cycle that we first noted in California.  The chart starts in an “up” period with a drop around 1960, another period of higher harvests, a drop around 1990, and another rise afterwards.  Note there are some small exceptions here though.  Still, they are very similar and the average appears to be up in recent years and the fit of the last few seasons into the overall pattern is still unclear, but appears to be something other than a continued rise.  Texas also appears to bring two other species to our attention:  BW Teal and Gadwall.  It should be noted that Mallards are still very important but there are many species taken in significant numbers in this state.


North Dakota:  North Dakota is the other Central Flyway state that we examine here and it seems to very much reflect what we had to say about Washington when talking about the Pacific Flyway.  The pattern looks the same but seems to grow much stronger during the most recent upward trend.  Further, again, we see that Mallards are more important in the more northern state in this flyway, too.  Gadwall do show as an important share of the harvest.  If anything, we may be starting to see a pattern in that the cycles are sharper in the northern tier of these two flyways and that the relative share of species harvest is more focused on Mallards in that part of the flyways.  The Average line here seems to be more closely tied to the total harvest and may indicate less of a drop in hunter numbers than noted in other states.


Central:  Overall the Central Flyway doesn’t seem to differ much from the Pacific in terms of cycles.  Low points were seen around 1960 and 1990.  Averages seem to be on the rise during recent years as hunter numbers have declined, perhaps less than in the Pacific Flyway, though.  (See Central Hunters)   We still see the importance of Mallards in the harvest, but now find that we need to consider BW Teal and Gadwall, as well.






The Mississippi Flyway claims the largest harvest of any of the four flyways and has been cyclical like those we have seen.  This flyway is generally accepted as including Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.  The Mallard is again the dominant species in the harvest with significant segments of BW Teal, GW Teal, Gadwalls, and Wood Ducks.


Louisiana:  Louisiana has been the leader in total harvest although Arkansas is very close, if not ahead, in terms of average per hunter, according to the data that is available.  Louisiana also displays the same apparent cycle that we have been seeing.  The low points around 1960 and 1990 are here as well, as is the recent rise in both total harvest and average per hunter.  Louisiana does show us a much more mixed harvest than we have seen so far, though.  Mallards are important but share that almost equally with BW Teal, GW Teal, and Gadwall.  Wood Ducks first make a significant appearance, as do Scaup.  Because of the overall volume and diversity of species, we will return to Louisiana in other sections of our analysis.


Arkansas:  Arkansas immediately jumps out when we open this chart after looking at the previous ones.  First, the same cycle is there, but the up years prior to 1960 and those in the 70s and 80s are much smaller compared to current levels than we have been seeing.  Perhaps even more obvious is the LACK of harvest diversity here; this is a MALLARD state, it would seem. 


Mississippi:  Mississippi looks something like Arkansas without being able to keep up with that state’s growth in the most recent years.  Mallards are dominant, but there is a significant segment of Wood Ducks.  The recent importance of Gadwall should be particularly noted as well.


Minnesota:  Minnesota is the first northern state we examine in this flyway.  This state does seem to have the same cycle over time but it is not nearly as clear here due to the presence of “up” years in the low periods and “down” years in the higher ones.  We may see evidence here of less southern migration in those down years resulting in “up” harvests in northern states in those years.  Like North Dakota, hunter numbers would appear to be more consistent as averages seem to track the total harvest more closely.  We also see that familiar northern importance of the Mallard, but we do see significant Wood Duck and Gadwall segments here.


Illinois:  Illinois looks a lot like Minnesota with, perhaps, a little clearer cycle.  Mallards are dominant with that significant Wood Duck segment and a growing harvest of Gadwall.


Mississippi:  The Mississippi Flyway harvests a very large percentage of the continent’s total duck harvest.  We do seem to see the same cycle over the years that we have been noting.  We are seeing something of a trend in maintenance of numbers of hunters here, though.  It seems to be fairly steady in the northern tier of states here and very much track the harvest in others.






The Atlantic Flyway is also cyclical and consists of those states on the Eastern Seaboard including Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New_Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.  As a group, the harvest of this flyway is historically more diverse than most others with large segments of Black Ducks, BW Teal, Mallards, GW Teal, Ringnecks, and Wood Ducks.  The Mallard is slightly dominant over the Wood Duck in harvest.


South Carolina:  South Carolina does not harvest as many total ducks as North Carolina in our most recent year of analysis, but we will start here as it is, technically, the southernmost state we are looking at in this flyway.  (ie.  Note that there is analysis elsewhere that will explain this statement better; NC may BE the southernmost in this flyway in some sense.  Besides, I live here in SC.)  South Carolina does show us the same cycle we have been seeing in terms of total harvest but there are significant differences here.  The average line seems to show a fairly steady upward trend over the entire period of our analysis.  This state also offers us a good opportunity to first note some specific species trends, too.  The Black Duck decline shows clearly here.  BW Teal, GW Teal, Gadwall, and Wood Ducks (very much so) seem to be fueling the overall harvest growth here while Mallards are most indicative of that familiar cycle. 


North Carolina:  North Carolina, while again showing us the cycle over the years, exhibits the pattern we had been seeing in northern tier states in other flyways; averages track total harvest and may indicate less of a decline in hunter numbers in recent years.  We also seem to see a more diverse harvest here than in the sister state of South Carolina, although the same species appear to be significant.  GW Teal, Wood Ducks, and Ringnecks seem to fuel the growth and Mallards most closely reflect the cycles.


New York:  New York, once again, shows us something of that familiar cycle, although the recent upward trend is much below that seen in other states.  Mallards are dominant as in other northern states, but Wood Ducks are strong and we see a very significant Black Duck segment here.  We may also see evidence of a significant decline in Scaup here.


Atlantic:  The Atlantic Flyway does not compare with the other three in terms of total harvest any longer.  It does, however, exhibit very similar cylces and reflect the importance of it’s own species.  Mallards are still dominant here but we see an increasing share of Wood Ducks and Gadwall.  GW Teal, Ringnecks, Scaup, and Black Ducks come to our attention here, as well.





Now, we have taken a closer look at multiple states in each flyway and have identified a list of species and the states in which they are significant that we will want to more closely examine.  We could take the step of analyzing each flyway as a whole in terms of species harvests, but that will be left to the reader with the aid of the following charts:


Atlantic                       Mississippi                   Central                                    Pacific


Similarly, we could dig yet deeper into the numbers of hunters in different areas, but that too is not a focus of this analysis and will be left to the reader:

Atlantic                       Mississippi                   Central                        Pacific

Finally, the flyway breakdowns of different species harvests are available and do give us a point at which to transition into the banding data below.  We will now look at those species that have been identified above and briefly note their relative importance across flyways. 

Black: Black Ducks appear to be, almost exclusively, an Atlantic Flyway species.  There appears to be a definite downward trend in this species.  They fell short during the upward harvest trends in the 70s and 80s and have seen nothing of the increases of other species in the 90s.

BW_Teal:  BW Teal are taken across all four flyways, but, as we have seen may be most significant in the Mississippi and Central areas.  They seem to have been consistent with overall trends and cycles with a single unusually bad year in 1968-69.

GW_Teal:        GW Teal appear to be a significant segment of the harvest in all four flyways and to be quite exemplary of the overall trends and cycles that we have seen.  They may, in fact, be a growing proportion of the harvest in many areas.

Gadwall:         Gadwall show indications of the cycle we have noted but show a most definite upward trend in all flyways with the possible exception of the Pacific, where they are certainly holding their own.

Mallard:           Mallards are, without question, the indicator species for the overall trends and cycles.  They are the dominant species in all four flyways and will be covered in much detail here as they have been in most studies.

Pintail:             Pintails appear to be most significant in the Pacific Flyway, although quantities are taken in the Central and Mississippi.  They appear to be weakening in recent years and, otherwise, consistent with noted cycles.

Ringneck:        Ringnecks are of significance in the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways and, in the Atlantic, appear to show a slight upward trend in harvest totals. 

Wigeon:           Wigeon certainly appear in all four flyways, but are most significant in volume in the Pacific and, perhaps in relative significance, in the Atlantic.

Wood Duck:  Wood Ducks are mainly a Mississippi and Atlantic Flyway duck and are very significant as a share of the harvest in the Atlantic.

Scaup:             Scaup seem to display the usual cycle but appears to be more erratic and possibly has more down years than other species in recent years.  While taken in all four flyways, they appear to be most significant as a segment in the Atlantic Flyway with large numbers taken in the Mississippi.

These species can also be viewed on maps for total harvest by states in my most-recently mapped 2003-2004 season.  These may help to clarify areas and lead to understanding the “sources” that we will discuss in the banding section below:  NOTE that the legend on each should be consulted for the scale being used in each. 

Black               BW/Cinn_Teal                        Gadwall          GW_Teal         Mallard            Pintail              Ringneck

Scaup              Wigeon                        Wood Duck

Now that we have identified major harvest states and species that we wish to examine, we will turn our attention to the banding data in hopes of understanding something of the sources and migration routes of these species to and from those areas.




When the subject of banding data and recoveries comes up, it is easy to start from what might be the wrong direction. For Example:  If one wants to know something about the migration patterns of ducks in South Carolina, it just might be that looking at band recoveries here is the wrong way to go about it.  That number is subject to the relative number of bandings at what one might consider as the “sources” of those birds, the nesting states and provinces and locations along the migration routes.  A much better approach might be to work from the other direction and look at where bands put on in the “nesting areas” have been recovered.  That pattern of distribution seems to provide a much better picture it seems.  Of course, looking at where birds banded in the “harvest state” are recovered can be similarly helpful but might be less so because there are usually lower rates of banding in these states than in the nesting areas and it can be shown that the outflow from the sources does change from year to year.  For example: Recovering a South Carolina-banded Mallard in Arkansas the following year certainly doesn’t indicate a direct migration between the two states.  It is much more likely that this bird (and, presumably, others of his group) chose a different path of migration the following year.  Still this is an angle that, while we will not go into very much, is helpful.  Finally, we must remember that we are not closely examining the time of banding and recovery, either in terms of within the yearly migration cycle or over the years.  This can make a difference, particularly in the Southern states.  If we are looking at birds that were banded AT their wintering grounds, we are seeing something a little different than if they were banded enroute.  We will be assuming that most southern banding is done after the peak of migration and, thus, represents wintering birds and will be looking at their distribution further north.  Note the possible exceptions to this in North Carolina, South Carolina, and even Louisiana.



In order to take the suggested approach noted above, we must first attempt to identify which states and provinces we want to consider as the sources.  Traditionally, biologists and popular writings have identified the “prairie” states and provinces as these areas.  If we start with that premise, we would include North Dakota, Minnesota, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.  Given that basic start and a handy map, it becomes easy to consider other additions.  It is hard not to add Montana and South Dakota.  Looking at Canada and understanding something of the data, Ontario and Quebec quickly make the list.  For current purposes, that is where this analysis was intended to end.  However, looking at some species for some parts of the continent forced the inclusion of additional provinces.  These included British Columbia and the NW Territories to the west as well as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland to the east.  (It should be kept in mind that bandings in these areas are not necessarily of sources in the sense that we intend.  Some could be bandings of birds enroute to Southern points FROM the actual sources.  Still, the quantities and this classification will be helpful.)

This leaves us with fourteen of what we will consider to be “nesting” states and provinces:  NW Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. It would not be hard to argue that significant nesting of some species occurs in other areas but limiting ourselves to these gives us a slightly more manageable analysis.

An underlying consideration in which states and provinces to include involves the amount of data available.  The number of birds banded seems to be irrelevant and it is the number of recoveries that has been used.  Even then, there are typically large numbers that do not add any particular value as they are recovered IN the state or province of banding.

The following tables shows the number of band recoveries by species of those states/provinces and species that we are analyzing.  IF these quantities of birds banded (and subsequent recoveries) were perfect in relative proportion to the number of birds of these species in these areas, we would have THE definitive starting point for analysis.  Of course this is not true and the quantities banded and recovered have been the result of various factors and interests over the years.  Still, it can be accepted that this IS the data we have to work with and, thus, does define the “sub-populations that we are able to analyze.  It should also be noted that this data is cumulative since the early 1920s and no attempt to show changing trends over time has been considered at this point.



BW Teal


GW Teal






Wood Duck

NW Territories











British Columbia


































































Nova Scotia






















New Brunswick






















North Dakota











South Dakota






















The links in this table are active and it does provide a reasonable base for individual exploration of the data discussed in the sections below.

Now, we must decide if we will approach these subpopulations from the geographic or species perspective.  Depending on the interests of the reader, either may be appropriate.  However, for our purposes, we will work with the species and discuss the state harvests that each of these impact and to what relative degree.

Black Ducks:  Black ducks have been primarily an Atlantic Flyway species as shown in the map of Black Duck Total Harvest and the chart of the Black Duck Harvest by Flyway over time.  This is reflected in the areas for which banding data is available.  Of these, the Ontario source has the largest number of recovered bands, but the coastal provinces provide equal numbers in the cumulative.  With that in mind we can begin to look at the locations in which these bands are recovered.  First, the Ontario Blacks can be seen to have the widest dispersion, it would seem.  This may be misleading due to the physical size and east-west spread of this province, however.  A more detailed study of the bandings in Ontario would seem to be necessary but it does suffice to note that this province, along with Michigan seems to be the primary source for the Black Ducks harvested in the Mississippi Flyway.  Tennessee, in particular seems to derive most of it’s Blacks from one of these two sources.  It is also important to note here that both North Carolina and South Carolina receive large numbers from these two states with South Carolina seeming to benefit significantly more from the Michigan Blacks than does North Carolina.  As we move to the more eastern provincial sources, we will see that North Carolina continues to receive significant shares, but that is NOT true of South Carolina.  It may be that we are starting to see the first evidence of what we may come to see as the southern END of the Atlantic Flyway for many species as being North Carolina.  Quebec and the Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia provide the majority of Black Ducks for most of the Eastern Seaboard.  These birds seldom seem to venture much below North Carolina, if that far, however.

So, we seem to see two populations of Black Ducks emerging from the available data and this level of analysis.  We have a western group breeding in Ontario and, probably, Michigan that migrates pretty much directly south with a growing extension to the west into the Mississippi valley.  These birds do reach the East Coast, but primarily in the Carolinas, particularly South Carolina, but no further up or down the coast.  The more eastern population of the Canadian Maritime Provinces, including Quebec, represent the source of the traditional harvests of Blacks on the Eastern Seaboard as far south as North Carolina.  New York, the leading state for Black Duck Harvest does seem to take birds from both populations.  It might be suspected that this is the result of the width of the state and represents separate population harvests with minimal overlap. 


BW Teal:  BW Teal, while taken in all four flyways, appear to be more focused on the Plains and Prairie states and provinces as indicated by the areas with available banding data.  California does harvest very large numbers, but the focus of the harvest seems to be the Central and Mississippi flyways as shown in the map of BW_Teal Total Harvest and the time chart of BW_Teal Harvest by Flyway over time.  It should be noted that the Cinnamon Teal is included in the harvest numbers and that does represent a share of the California harvest, in particular.  Despite the lower harvest on the East Coast, we do find significant band recoveries from New Brunswick, which will be included in our analysis.  Thus, we will be looking at band recoveries from the following states and provinces:  Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, North Dakota, Minnesota, and South_Dakota.

Before we begin to examine these and try to identify various subpopulations, note that none of these seem to explain the California harvest.  We will have to accept that the BW and Cinnamon Teal harvested in that state have not been sufficiently covered by any banding program that we have identified.  The first source on our list, :  Alberta, does provide some quantity of BW Teal to California, but it certainly does not represent a sufficient share to be that harvest based on the information we have here.  Alberta seems to send most of its BW Teal down the Central Flyway.   As we will see with several species in the Central and Mississippi flyways, the vast majority make it to Louisiana with significant numbers recovered in Texas, what we can see as the wintering grounds.  However, there are two items to note about the recoveries of Alberta BW Teal.  First, they seem to be found more frequently in Minnesota than traditional views of the migration in the Central Flyway would have us suspect.  It is not obvious from the data that they fly east to Minnesota and down the Mississippi, but that recovery quantity does indicate some linkage with more eastern subpopulations.  The other item to note with the Alberta BW Teal is the significant quantity recovered in Florida.  The map view might lead us to believe that these birds regularly overfly Louisiana in that same Southeasterly direction.  Note that the ones taken in Florida do not appear to have come from a dispersion across any of the states above Florida.  It would appear straight from Louisiana over water or nonstop along the coast is their path based on this view.

Looking, in turn, at the BW Teal sources of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North Dakota, Minnesota, and South_Dakota, we see very similar patterns to those from Alberta.  We do see increasing numbers of recoveries in the northern states of the Mississippi Flyway as we move east with our sources, but, even then, it seems that Kansas continues to receive a very notable share compared with what is recovered in Missouri and Arkansas to the east.  These bandings also indicate the congregating effect in Louisiana and the overflow into Florida.  Is there enough info here to “track” the migration of the BW Teal of all of these sources and to call it a single subpopulation?  That is best left to the reader but it might be perceived that there is a single subpopulation here that takes a rather zig-zag route south in migrating.  There may very well be a “staging” that occurs in the lakes of Minnesota and a SW trek from there towards Kansas.  There seems to be little lingering in Arkansas, but they do end up in Louisiana, without fail.  Far more than we might have suspected, they even make an apparent overwater  or fast coastal trip on to Florida.

Ontario again appears to present us with an unclear picture.  The dispersion from this state appears to be in TWO parts: an Eastern and a Western one.  We are not doing any geographic breakdown within states and provinces in this analysis, but this is certainly a province for which that will be needed at some point to come to firm conclusions.  With the data in front of us, we will have to conclude that some part of the BW Teal in Ontario are part of the Western subpopulation we viewed above and others are much more attuned to the East Coast.  This leaves us with something of a problem on the Southern end of the migration, too.  Ontario BW Teal do begin to show quantities in Alabama and Mississippi that had been missing in earlier sources, but it is not clear if those are western offshoots of the Eastern Subpopulation or Eastward movements of the Western Subpopulation that we had not seen in earlier sources.  Since we have NOT seen that, we will have to conclude that the Eastern birds are extending that far after coming down the coast.  Florida is also an open question and is probably seeing some of both subgroups from Ontario.  The quantity there seems to large to be overflow from Louisiana as we have seen before, based on the recoveries in Louisiana.  Still, we might have expected it to be larger for a subpopulation of coastal migrating birds, based on the North-South focal points we have seen with this species.  It is quite possible that the Eastern Subpopulation is simply not recovered in Wintering areas as frequently due to weather and hunting season variances here.

Finally, we look at our easternmost source, New Brunswick.  The pattern here does resemble what we saw in the West.  There appears to be “staging” process in the northern tier and very few recoveries until the Southernmost state that we view, Florida.  There are a couple of other things to note here, though.  Louisiana still sees a relatively significant number of birds from this source, which is rather hard to explain based on the rest of the map.  It would seem unlikely that they are flying over water from Florida in a NW direction, but it is possible that they are following the coast and across upper Florida and on to the West to some degree.

Again, we seem to see two populations in this species.  A Western one that zig-zags down the Mississippi and Central Flyways to Louisiana after staging in the Minnesota area and an Eastern population that stages in New England and, rapidly flies the coast to Florida and perhaps, coastally, on to Louisiana.  We might note that this species does have this  traditional (ie. Total East Coast) “Atlantic Flyway” component that we are not going to see in others.


GW Teal:  GW Teal  are taken in significant numbers in all four flyways as shown in the map of GW_Teal Total Harvest and the chart of GW_Teal Harvest by Flyway over time.  As a result, we have a wide range of banding sources, all of which are Canadian Provinces.  These include Alberta and Saskatchewan in the prairie provinces, Ontario in the Great Lakes area, and Quebec, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia in Eastern Canada.  Manitoba is notable by it’s absence, as are the northern tier of states. 

When we start with the Alberta GW Teal, we see something a little different from what we observed with the BW Teal.  It appears that Alberta IS a clear source for the GW Teal harvested in California.  While significant quantities do work directly down the Central Flyway to Texas and Louisiana, we can see the majority recovered in California.  Two observations stand out at this point.  First, we do not see many recoveries of Alberta GW Teal in the coastal states of Washington and Oregon, but we do see a notable quantity in Utah and Colorado.  More study will be required to know, but it is interesting to contemplate the possible migration paths of these birds.  Could it be hopping over the Northern Rockies to those states?  Could it possibly be a Westward turn out of the Central Flyway in the vicinity of Kansas, which DOES show a significant quantity of recoveries, particularly for a mid-flyway state?  We just do not have enough information here to say with much certainty.

When we move on to look at Saskatchewan GW Teal, we see another source of GW Teal for California, but with a much more even split with Texas and Louisiana as a Winter destination.  We also see the same pattern of  minimal Oregon and Washington recovery and bubbles in Utah and Colorado.  In fact, if we do not look east of the Central Flyway, the only difference that we see here is a somewhat larger share that continue down the central flyway to Texas.  However, we do now start to see a Mississippi Flyway component to the Saskatchewan GW Teal with notable recoveries east of the Mississippi River.  We still do not see any sign of a major northern tier “staging area” as we did with BW Teal.  It looks like we are still looking at the Western subpopulation with only a hint of the Mississippi one that we will see in Ontario and, perhaps, would in Manitoba if we had sufficient data there.  Labeling these two provinces as a single population may seem a risk due to the quantities noted in California, but the en-route focus on the Central Flyway and the lack of recoveries in the upper Pacific Flyway or states of the Northern Rockies seems to indicate just that.

Now, Ontario clearly shows a Mississippi Flyway population with some very interesting East Coast components that we will look at more closely.  First, much as we saw an Eastern component of the Western population in the Saskatchewan data, we now see a similar, but much smaller, Western component in the Ontario GW Teal.  A very few do make it back down the Central Flyway and to California, still apparently across Utah.  Still, the vast majority of these birds are not looking westward.  Again, we see the effects of the size and spread of Ontario in that we probably are looking at two subpopulations when we view this data.  The westermost of the two, which will be our second GW Teal subpopulation works down the Mississippi Flyway to Louisiana.  The Eastern part of the Ontario appears to head Southeastward through New York and down the coast.  There may even be a sub-sub-population here that heads to the southeastern coast more directly through Ohio.  That is something of a “reach” from the data available, though, so we will settle for noting a Mississippi Flyway subpopulation in Ontario and elements of our third, the Atlantic subpopulation.

It is in Quebec that we start to see this Atlantic Flyway subpopulation more clearly.  Newfoundland and Nova Scotia look very similar and we will look at them as a group here and try to note any differences as we go.  All three of these look very similar for GW Teal to what we saw in looking at the BW Teal from this part of Canada.  They seem to move down the coast and on to Florida, with a surprising number making it on to Louisiana in some fashion.  Differences here include increased recoveries in the states enroute, including Georgia to a degree we had not seen before.  This may indicate a tendency to move along only as conditions require rather than the point-to-point migration of the BW Teal noted above.  We also see numbers of recoveries from the Quebec GW Teal in the upper Midwest, although these could be from the northwestern part of this large province and more attuned to the Mississippi subpopulation that we first found in Ontario. 

In summary, we seem to have three subpopulations of GW Teal.  There is a Central Flyway group that is primarily sourced in Alberta and Saskatchewan, with an odd migration offshoot to California via Utah.  Then, we have the Mississippi Flyway group that is sourced mostly in Ontario with small elements in Saskatchewan and Quebec.  Finally, we have the Atlantic Flyway group that comes all the way down the East Coast from Eastern Canada and may even wrap around over to Louisiana at times. 


Gadwall:  Gadwall, as indicated in the map of Gadwall Total Harvest and the chart of Gadwall Harvest by Flyway over time, are present in significant numbers in the harvests of all four flyways and seem to have a harvest distribution similar to what we saw in the GW Teal.  However, unlike the GW Teal, the Gadwall appear to be experiencing a long-term growth trend in the three eastern flyways as evidenced by the chart.  Still, available data would indicate that these are birds of the prairie region as indicated by the availability of banding data.  This is supported by the significantly lower, but growing, harvest in the Atlantic Flyway.  As a result, we will be looking at Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and North Dakota as the banding sources for these species.

The data that we have on this species seems to present a fairly simple picture.  The further east we go in looking at sources the more east we get in one of three “corridors”.  The Alberta Gadwalls seem to hug the western section of the Central Flyway with significant quantities in the Mountain States of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado.  We also see that same “turn” out across Utah to California that we noted with the teal and the minimal numbers in Oregon and Washington from this population.  Saskatchewan Gadwalls seem to travel fairly directly south from North Dakota to Texas with an increasing “flare” to the East from Kansas into Arkansas, Louisiana, and even Mississippi.   Manitoba Gadwalls would appear to be less subject  to harvest enroute and seem to move straight on to Louisiana, although lower quantities from this source may create this illusion. Finally, North Dakota Gadwalls appear to be something of a mix of the Saskatchewan and Manitoba patterns.  They do travel the Central Flyway, but are mostly bound for Louisiana. 

These patterns appear simple enough that we have to be reluctant to identify separate subpopulations of this species.  There appears to be a very gradual fade in migration tendencies across the prairie province sources without the breaks we would have to see to separate them.  There are a couple of items to be noted in this species as in some of the others, though.  We have already pointed out that odd California route of the Alberta Gadwalls.  There also seems to be a small, but interesting “offshoot” pattern across Tennessee towards South Carolina by this species.  This seems consistent with what we first noted in the Black Ducks and may represent a Tennessee/South Carolina aspect of the Mississippi Flyway for puddle ducks.  This is not a particularly new idea and has been noted by researchers such as Frederick and Peterson in the past.  It is a fact that is often overlooked in general conversation, though, and a noteworthy item when indicated.  A Southern “end” to the Atlantic Flyway above South Carolina has not been a part of popular writing on the subject.


Mallard:  The Mallard has been studied more extensively than perhaps any other species and there is little that this analysis could add to the work of numerous professionals.  Still, we will present the same types of charts and maps as we have for other species and leave it to the reader to analyze.  We will, however, note those items of interest that may show up in the data and be easily overlooked.

The Mallard is the dominant species in the U.S. Duck Harvest as noted early on in this analysis.  The map of MallardTotal Harvest and the chart of Mallard Harvest by Flyway over time support this and show that this species is harvested in large numbers in all four flyways.  One thing that might be noted at this point is the added importance of the Mallard in the harvests of the Northern states.  It is with this species that Washington, Minnesota, and similar states match up with the Southern ones in harvest.

Large numbers of bands have been recovered from all of the sources that we have been viewing except for the Canadian Maritime Provinces.  This leaves us with views from Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and South_Dakota for a total of eleven sources. 

Amidst this mass of data, that Tennessee-South Carolina offshoot from the West does show up significantly for the sources of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Minnesota.  Quebec exhibits that East Coast migration down TO North Carolina.  It is also interesting here   Aside from that, we will leave it to the reader to review the massive information available on this species.


Pintail:  The Pintail, as indicated by the Pintail Total Harvest Map and the Pintail Harvest by Flyway over time chart, seems to be predominantly a Pacific Flyway species.  Still significant quantities are harvested in the states of the Central Flyway and the western half of the Mississippi Flyway.  As with many species, Texas and Louisiana see the largest numbers within their respective flyways.  There does appear to be evidence of the now-familiar harvest cycle over the period of our data, but there seems to be a definite weakening trend for this species in the Pacific Flyway, which is the bulk of the harvest.  We have banding data to examine from the western provinces and the states that we have designated as sources.  This will give us nine banding sources:  Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and South_Dakota.   

The Pintail and Mallard are the only species for which we have sufficient banding data from the Northwest Territories and British Columbia for analysis and we will start with them.  The Northwest Territories Pintails data seems to pretty much reflect the overall harvest distribution that we saw above.  The east-west spread of this province probably does not allow us much help in identifying subpopulations or migration from this province.  If we were to look at it in segments, it might be expected that we would see groups that would correspond with those we will see in the southern tier of provinces. 

The first of these southern provinces, British Columbia, seems to be primarily a source for Pacific Flyway birds, as we might have suspected.  There may be something to be noted in the relatively low proportion of California recoveries from this source and the number that are recovered further north in Alaska, though.  This may indicate that this source is representative of a quite northern subpopulation that does not venture as far south as others.

When we get to Alberta, we do not seem to have that same significant pattern.  We now see the weight of California in our data and note that, even from this far west in our sources, there is a clear trend growing in the Central Flyway and towards Louisiana.  We also can note the Utah quantity here as being very significant.  As we saw with the teal species earlier, Utah does seem to have some unclear “link” to the more eastern sections of the Central Flyway.

 Saskatchewan and Manitoba continue that trend as we move to the East and, with Saskatchewan, we now see Texas and Louisiana together matching the California share.  By Manitoba, both exceed California on their own.  We can also see a few things starting to show in terms of more eastern recoveries from these two sources.  We again see that Tennessee-South Carolina offshoot, but North Carolina now seems to hold its own with its more southern sister state for this species.  We can also see some degree of the Florida overflow from, apparently, the Mississippi flyway, again. Even this far East, we have to note that California is still drawing notable quantities, apparently from the Utah exit of the Central Flyway, although there is not enough here to say that with certainty.

As we look at the northern tier of states that we have included in our sources, we see pretty much replications of the provinces above them.  Montana seems to harbor the California bound subpopulation with the Utah contingent, while , North Dakota and South_Dakota are primarily Central Flyway and western Mississippi Flyway birds.  Minnesota, the most eastern of all of our studied sources of Pintails, show a decidedly Mississippi Flyway flavor.  Another small oddity that we note with the state sources here is that the Tennessee-South Carolina offshoot starts to look much more like a Tennessee-NORTH Carolina offshoot, even, to a small degree, as far west as Montana. 

We might be better off to look at Pintail sources and see only a “fade” in migration as we did with the Gadwalls.  However, the lines do seem a little sharper here and I suspect that further breakdowns in the provinces would reveal four subpopulations for Pintails.  We saw hints of a “Northen Pacific” population in data from British Columbia and we saw a “Southern Pacific” population in Alberta and Montana.  Saskatchewan and the Dakotas seem dominated by a Central Flyway group with some ties to Utah and California.  Finally, Manitoba and Minnesota, and perhaps other sources not available, indicate a Mississippi Flyway population with links to the East Coast through the Tennessee-Carolina offshoot.


Ringneck:  The Ringneck Total Harvest Map and the chart of Ringneck Harvest by Flyway over time indicate that this species is most important in the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyways with the usual cycle and what appears to be an upward trend.  Certainly, this data indicates that the earliest “up” period in our study time frame did not have the numbers recorded that we have seen since.  There also seems to be a lot of variability in the harvest here, though, in that there are many years that seem to rise or fall significantly away from the trend of the time.  The map does perhaps show a more direct migration than for some species; if they are not harvested in Minnesota or Wisconsin, they tend to make it all the way to Texas, Louisiana, or Florida.  Still, the harvest seems to be spread fairly evenly in between and this may be misleading and not the best possible interpretation.

Banding data is pretty sparse for the sources we are examining but we do have a great deal of data from Minnesota and have included the small number from Ontario. 

Minnesota does offer by far the most data and, as might be expected, it matches the harvest distribution in many respects with a few highly notable exceptions.  One is, of course, in the area of North Carolina and South Carolina.  Minnesota band recoveries of Ringnecks do not seem to indicate that state as being the source of the Ringneck harvest in North Carolina, as they do for South Carolina.  We also see major recoveries in the Deep South states of Mississippi, Alabama, and even Georgia, indicating that the eastward shift for this species is more broad and not aimed at the Carolina coast as with other species.

Ontario does seem to show a source of North Carolina Ringnecks, along with South Carolina, but we do not see the Tennessee route in that data.  Further, we can not be sure that we are not again looking at more than one population when we view Ontario.  Only the lack of Tennessee recoveries makes me inclined to see an Atlantic Flyway population that extends down to South Carolina and beyond for this species (note Florida). However, there does not appear to be significant recoveries of Ringnecks in the states above the Carolinas in either direction until you get all the way up to Michigan and Wisconsin.

There do appear to be two subpopulations of this species, but I suspect that we are missing a major source in the East for which data is not available.  As it is, we can see a Mississippi Flyway population with the Tennessee-South Carolina offshoot and we can see hints of a traditional full-coast Atlantic Flyway population.


Wigeon:  The Wigeon Total Harvest Map and the chart of Wigeon Harvest by Flyway over time indicate that the Wigeon is significant in the harvest of all four flyways with the Pacific slightly leading in total harvest. The harvest over time appears to be familiar in terms of harvest with a couple of low years in the mid-70s in the middle of that overall upward trend.

Banding data is hard to come by for Wigeon in our source areas, but we do have almost identical quantities of recoveries from the duck factories of Alberta and Saskatchewan.  The similar sizes should help us in looking at their distribution but it is unlikely that just these two will allow us much of a breakdown into subpopulations.

When we look at Alberta, we do seem to see a clear Pacific Flyway source, though.  We even see that this one starts up in Washington and extends down the coast.  Idaho and Utah are well represented, which may give us second thoughts about the path to Utah that we considered with other species.  The Colorado and Texas recoveries, in the absence of numbers from the upper plains states, may even give us the impression of a Western Central Flyway population here as well.  It is clearly not comparable with the first one, though.

As we move on to Saskatchewan, we still can see a very significant representation of the Pacific Flyway population, but we can now see a clear Central Flyway population up and down the plains states.  This province would seem to have elements of at least two subpopulations as we also have to note the hints of a Mississippi Flyway component with, perhaps,  a NEW eastern offshoots.  Instead of the obvious now-familiar Tennessee-South Carolina offshoot, it looks like we might see a more northerly one towards the Chesapeake Bay and down the coast from there.  This is more of the traditional path that I have heard discussed in linking the Southeastern states and the Chesapeake; that there was a SE migration to the Bay and a turn South from that point.  Although we are not including it here, this may be the traditional Canvasback migration of an earlier time.

So, we seem to have hints of at multiple subpopulations in just these two sources. There is a decidedly Pacific Coast group, strong indications of both a mountain and plains component of the Central Flyway, a standard Mississippi Flyway group, and an Atlantic Flyway one that begins with a movement from the NW to the Chesapeake Bay area.


Wood Duck:  The Wood_Duck Total Harvest Map and the chart of Wood_Duck Harvest by Flyway over time show that the Wood Duck is a Mississippi and Atlantic Flyway species and very important to the overall harvest in the Atlantic, in particular.

Available banding data for the Wood Duck reflects the eastward emphasis on this species and we have significant data available only from the Eastern Provinces of Ontario and Quebec, along with the state of Minnesota.  Before we even look, it is not hard to guess what we will see.  Minnesota can be expected to provide the Mississippi Flyway birds, it will probably seem.  Quebec will be focused on the Atlantic.  Ontario will seem to send birds in both directions, again due to its size and geographic width, I’d suspect.  Due to the breeding habits of the Wood Duck, it is more than likely that our concept of sources leaves a lot to be overlooked with this species.  Breeding across much wider latitudes in significant quantities, it will be necessary for the reader to look much more closely at the bandings and subsequent recoveries in many other states.  Even then, I would guess that we would always see shorter migrations south from those sources IF we could separate the sources from the destinations in those states.  Could we?  Yes, I think that looking at the bands put on during the breeding season only would allow for that to some degree.  With this knowledge, the information below should certainly be taken lightly with many questions in the mind of the reader.

Minnesota, as we noted above, appears to be the source of Wood Ducks for the Mississippi and Central Flyways.  There is a Tennessee-South Carolina offshoot and Florida does seem to have significant numbers from this source.  Despite the considerations above, the data does seem to indicate a species with a major North-to-South migration, certainly in the Mississippi Flyway.

Quebec does show that Atlantic Flyway population that we expected and, again, we see a more significant reach for it than we might have guessed.  This species from this source is, along with the GW Teal, one of the few that seems to utilize the Atlantic Flyway from top to bottom.

Finally, we turn to Ontario and I am a little surprised NOT to see that “split” that I have come to expect from this province.  We seem to see a fairly strong focus towards the Atlantic Flyway, although it joins that Flyway only in New York and below.  It MAY be that, like the GW Teal we looked at earlier, we can even see a “wrap-around” effect into the Gulf Coast states of the Mississippi Flyway with this species.  If I had to guess why the picture looks different for this species in Ontario, I would think about the lesser emphasis on banding Wood Ducks in those parts of this province that might be expected to feed the Mississippi Flyway more directly (ie. The western part).

So, we do manage to see two subpopulations of Wood Ducks with more extensive migration than I would have guessed.  There is a Mississippi Flyway group with Central Flyway representation in Minnesota and, probably, other provinces and states for which we do not have data.  There is also a fairly traditional Atlantic Flyway subpopulation that also moves more than just a couple of states.



As mentioned above, we could look at bandings in harvest states and use that data to map the “sources” of those birds.  It could be argued that ALL states should be included in this approach, but it seems that looking at the other end of the migration might be sufficient and will also encompass many of the major harvest states that were not included in sources.  With this in mind, I’ve narrowed my list down to a “Southern Tier” of states that includes the following:  Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.  These links show Total Recovery distributions for all species (being studied here) banded in those states.  As with the nesting sources, we can look at individual species and come up with the following table:





































































































































As harvest states, we may be more interested in looking at these from the geographic, rather than the species, perspective.  Of course, the chart above would allow either view, but our analysis will move from state to state.  Note that the table above is arranged by FLYWAYS, with the states alphabetically within each.  That is the way we will move through them here.

Pacific Flyway:   When we look at the Pacific Flyway, we have two states for which we will examine band returns:  California and Utah. 

California, we remind ourselves, dominates the harvest of this flyway.   We also noted earlier that the harvest is quite diverse and we see that indicated in the table of recoveries from species banded in this state.  The species we will look at here include Gadwall, GW_Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Wigeon, and Wood Duck.  As we look through these recovery maps, we can note the unusually large percentage that are recovered within the state of banding, California.  We can also see that very few are recovered in the Canadian provinces.  Only the Pintail, Wigeon, and Mallard seem to show significant quantities outside of California. The Gadwall, GW Teal, and Wood Duck would make one wonder if these birds STAY within (or very near) the state or if it is just that they are not harvested and/or studied in other states and provinces.  Gadwall seem to venture to Oregon and Nevada.  The GW_Teal seem to go no place except Utah, which is very interesting as it appears here.  The Wood Duck may have sufficient room IN California for their limited migrations.  The Mallard seems to show a very straightforward North-South migration as we noted from Alberta earlier.  This is the “pure” Pacific Flyway that we might expect.  The Pintail appears fairly similar with an extension on each end of the migration.  We see significant recoveries north into Alaska and we also seem to see enough in Arizona, Texas and Louisiana to make us think that California is not the Southern end of the migration for this species.  Also,  there seems to be a path directly north of Texas to Saskatchewan in Canada that seems to give us the picture of a complete “loop” in this species.  Utah seems to be the bull’s-eye in that loop.  The possibilities here are very interesting and could show either a real loop in a given year or a variation in year-to-year migration between the Pacific and Central Flyways for this species.  Finally, the Wigeon looks a little similar to the GW Teal with those quantities in Utah, but  with, perhaps, even less of a venture north of California.

Utah offers us sufficient band recovery quantities to look at the GW_Teal, Mallard, and Pintail .  We appear to be looking at the same populations of GW Teal and Pintails here that we did in California.  The GW Teal seem to be trading only between the two states and we see Utah as the bull’s-eye in our Pintail “loop”, again.  The Mallard, however, appears to be separate from the population of that species we saw in California.  We may even be looking at a self-contained Rocky Mountain population here as we see low quantities in the Canadian provinces with significant numbers in Idaho and other mountain states. 


Central Flyway:   In the Central Flyway, we look only as Texas as our Southern tier harvest state.

Texas offers us views of the same three species that we examined in Utah:  GW_Teal, Mallard, and the Pintail.  The GW Teal shows something here that we might not have expected.  We see a link to California that was not as obvious in the California numbers.  We also do not see this population as being linked to Utah.  It is not at all clear how we missed this component in California numbers, but it seems clear here.  The Texas Pintails seem to be a consistent part of the loop and bull’s-eye we have already noted and the Mallard seems to be a pure Central Flyway pattern.


 Mississippi Flyway:   As we arrive at the Mississippi Flyway, we now have a number of states and species to examine.  We will examine bandings from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.  These states will offer us various views of Black Ducks, BW Teal, GW Teal, Mallards, Pintails, Ringnecks, Lesser Scaup, and Wood Ducks.

Alabama offers us bandings of Blacks, Mallards, and Wood Ducks.  There are not many surprises here.  The Black Ducks appear to come straight south to Alabama, though, and do not appear to be part of any coastal flyway from the traditional New England areas.  The Mallards seem to be very straightforward “down-the river” birds, too.  As we move more to the West, we will see more Central Flyway intermingling, but not here.  Finally, the Wood Ducks show the local migration of this species with just enough in the Upper Midwest to make us wonder if there are some changes in some years.

Arkansas lets us look at significant numbers of bandings for Mallards and Wood Ducks.  We come to the Land of the Mallard and we see a much wider funnel opened to the prairie provinces of Canada.  Ontario is not nearly as important here as in Alabama and points to the East, but there are indications (in Misc. section) that this is growing.  The Wood Duck pattern looks very similar to Alabama with a little shift to the West.  There is still that apparent local migration and the numbers in the Upper Midwest that make us wonder.

Louisiana has the widest variety in this flyway with useable numbers of BW_Teal, GW_Teal, Mallards, Pintails, Ringnecks, Lesser_Scaup, and Wood Ducks.  Here, there is a lot to look at.  This is obviously the spout of the main North American funnel for most species and it shows.  For some, it even seems to have feeder channels from East and West as well as the North.  BW Teal are from the Central and Mississippi Flyways, in fairly equal proportions, it seems.  We should note the quantity in Minnesota (and the lack of numbers above there) as possibly indicative of the nesting area being within that state.  Finally, a number of BW Teal appear to move ON to Florida via Louisiana as noted in the Nesting Area discussion.  The GW Teal looks very similar, even in terms of Minnesota, but we now see our first feeder stream.  California, as noted in the discussion of that state, does seem to send this species on to Louisiana, but we do not see much of an extension on into Florida for the GW Teal.  The Mallard seems to show a wider version of the funnel we saw in Arkansas with a stronger Central Flyway input and a little eastern feeder stream from New York and the Ontario area.  With the Pintail, we see the Central and Mississippi funnel, but the West Coast feeder is more pronounced and less direct from California with a clear trans-mountain route via Utah and Colorado.  There may also be evidence here of the Tennessee-North Carolina outflow noted in Nesting Area analysis, but it is not clear how it ties to Louisiana; perhaps as a “some years” route for the Mississippi.  The Ringneck and Lesser Scaup both look pretty much North-South from Minnesota with a possible extension on to Florida more inland than that of the BW Teal.  Finally, the Wood Duck may show a narrower local dispersion and more of a true migration from the Upper Midwest, although that may be a stretch of what we can see here.

Mississippi offers us Mallards, Ringnecks, and Wood Ducks.  The Mallard shows no surprises in Mississippi with a pure Mississippi Flyway pattern, including the Tennessee-South Carolina offshoot of this group.  The Ringneck looks a lot like Louisiana with that Minnesota-Gulf Coast-Florida pattern.  We may see more importance in Ontario here though.  The Wood Duck looks similarly familiar, too, with a slightly more pronounced feeder from New York.

Tennessee shows us the largest quantities in this flyway for Black Ducks, Mallards, and Wood Ducks.  Tennessee brings us to one of the most unclear areas on the continent.  I think that this is a critical state in understanding the migrations of ducks in the Easter United States, as is the Canadian Province of Ontario.   Both seem to represent important links between the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways.  Like Ontario, this state has a wide East-to-West spread that may serve to confuse the data at this level, though.  When we look at the Black Ducks here, we several facets of the pivotal role that this state plays in the East.  Here it appears to be the pathway to Alabama and Mississippi for Ontario Black Ducks.  We also see a clear link to the East Coast Blacks of New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the Carolinas.  It is quite possible that we are seeing two separate populations here.  One down the Tenn. River valley to the Gulf States and another feed INTO Tennessee from the East Coast.  Turning to the Mallards, the picture, is, if anything, even more complex.  We may see those same two patterns, but there are some additional ones now.  First, we can note a significant funneling from the Prairie Provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, probably a part of the flow to Louisiana via Eastern Arkansas and Western Tennessee.  We also see a marked indication of an offshoot INTO South Carolina from the Mississippi Flyway.  Unlike the Black, the numbers do not indicate as much a down-to-Carolina-over-to-Tennessee look as we do not see the numbers above South Carolina now.  This is a pattern we have noted and will get back to when we reach South Carolina.  Finally, the Wood Duck seems to show both a dispersion below Tennessee and stronger links to the northern states than we have noticed in other Southern states.  Tennessee appears to be more of a bridge between the two types of Wood Duck populations than others have been.


Atlantic Flyway:   In the Atlantic Flyway, we will look at Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina and be able to examine returns of Black Ducks, GW Teal, Mallards, Pintails, Ringnecks, Lesser Scaup, and Wood Ducks.

Florida allows us to look at some quantities of Ringnecks, Lesser_Scaup, and Wood Ducks, with a very small quantity of Mallards.  The divers here, Ringnecks and Scaup, appear to originate in the Upper Midwest states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan and the Canadian Provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.  The Scaup seems to tend a little more towards a “western” migration down through Louisiana and originates a little more frequently in Manitoba.  The Ringneck has more of a focus on Ontario in the north and displays more of a spread across the Gulf Coast states into Florida.  The Wood Duck appears to be more of a north-south migrant in this view, but the large quantity recovered within the state may be indicate otherwise.  Still, there is an element of Ontario sourcing to the species here.  Finally, the low numbers of Mallards still clearly shows Florida as being in the Mississippi Flyway for this species in what migration to this state does occur.

North Carolina has diversity of species in significant numbers that even exceeds that we saw earlier in California.  Here we have Black Ducks, GW_Teal, Mallards, Pintails, Ringnecks, Lesser_Scaup, and Wood Ducks.  This state is, I believe, the lower end of the East Coast aspect of the Atlantic Flyway and will demonstrate that for many of these species.  The Black Duck we can see as a coastal migrant from Ontario and, more notably, Quebec on down through New York, New Jersey, and Virginia.  It is important to note here that Black Ducks banded in North Carolina are seldom recovered further south.  The GW Teal looks very similar with an even greater emphasis on the more eastern province of Quebec.  Again, we see smaller quantities below this state, but, perhaps, enough in South Carolina to indicate that this species does proceed further.  For the Mallard, we do not see a clear pattern here.  While we do see an eastern migration down from Ontario through New York, Pennsylvania, and Virgina, we also see significant quantities from the Upper Midwest states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.   We also see something of a spread below North Carolina across the Gulf Coast States.  It is only when we get to South Carolina and compare the two states that we can more clearly see a difference in the dispersion pattern.  Pintails look like another down-the-coast species similar to the Black Ducks and GW Teal, but we now see a clearer extension on into Florida.  The Ringneck looks very much the same until we remember that this area did not appear to represent a significant share of the Florida pattern for this species.  The Scaup is, again, very similar, but now gives us a clear look at a traditionally accepted migration pattern southeastward from the Great Lakes to the Chesapeake Bay area and down the coast from there.  Looking back over the other species with this now noted, we can see that type of pattern in at least the Ringnecks, Pintails, and Mallards, if not others.   Finally, the Wood Duck looks like very much a migratory species in this view.  Again, the number of in-state recoveries may be an indication otherwise, though.

South Carolina does not offer us the variety or the quantities that we have in North Carolina, but, since we don want to make some close comparisons between the two states, we will look at many of the same species.  These will include GW_Teal, Mallards, Ringnecks, Lesser_Scaup, and Wood Ducks.  As we get to this final state in our analysis, my home state, it may be easy for me to be influenced by what we have already seen.  Looking merely at the GW Teal dispersion, this looks like a simple East-Coast migrant, but we remember the lower numbers moving on below North Carolina and realize that we are probably looking only at that small subset here.  It is with the Mallard in South Carolina that we get to one of the most notable maps of all.  Again, we have to go back and compare it to that of North Carolina for the difference to stand out.  South Carolina clearly disperses Mallards in a much more westerly direction than does North Carolina.  For this indicator species, the most important of all in the harvest, these two states do appear to be in different flyways.  Note the much greater importance of Tennessee, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Manitoba here.  We even see a notable quantity in Saskatchewan.  Although South Carolina does interact with northeastern states, it would appear to be more clearly a part of the Mississippi Flyway for this species.  Yet again, we have to point out that this has been noted before, but deserves repeating with the implication that South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida may need to be more aware of the importance of species migration in that flyway rather than the traditional Atlantic.  We see this same relationship repeated for Ringnecks and, to a lesser extent, the Scaup.  The Scaup seems to have that more western source even for North Carolina and be, perhaps, indicative of that Great Lakes-Chesapeake-Carolinas route.  Finally, the Wood Duck patterns look very similar for both states.






We have looked at a lot of charts and maps here and I have made many comments that, admittedly, often stretch interpretation of the data.  We have also seen several areas and items that require closer examination and/or additional data.  I would hope that the reader would utilize my comments only as cues to their own ideas and interpretations.  If they have made the reader think about other possible explanations for what the data shows or raised questions in new directions, they have more than served their intended purpose.  I would hope to receive some of those views and questions and would be interested in exploring some of them, I’m sure.  I would expect to add to this and make modifications as time and thought dictate.

Please remember that I am in no way an expert on either Waterfowl Biology or computer graphics and do not hold me to those standards in your comments.  Please do feel free to send me your comments, however.  I think that many groups and individuals have made remarkable contributions to knowledge in this area and I hope to stimulate some degree of interest in their work and its possibilities.  I would especially thank the folks at the Bird Banding Lab, Woody Martin and B.H. Powell in particular, for their assistance in providing enough to keep an old Southern Gobbler Chaser busy throughout a poor duck season.  While many of us do have other interests that consume much of our work and recreational time, a love of waterfowl is also something that many of us share and love from someplace deep in our hearts.  It is a part of our national and sporting heritage.   Many of us approach it in different ways and with different methods as we do life in general.  May we always have this respect for the birds and one another.  Thank you if you’ve managed to make it to this point; you have demonstrated your love of waterfowl.


Isaac G. “Tuffy” Edwards