The federal report on U.S. wild duck populations discussed here in November also contains information on the status of other hunted bird species. Information for the report was gathered and prepared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Sandhill Cranes — The population in the past several years has been trending toward slight increases. The estimate made in Nebraska this spring was for almost 406,000 birds. Nebraska is the continent’s main flocking point for birds in migration. The report said crane population has been “relatively stable” since 1982.
Mourning Doves — An estimate prior to the 2015 hunting season was 266 million doves. The report divides the country into three regions — west, middle, and east. Populations in the middle (including Minnesota) and the east were found to be “relatively unchanged.” Western numbers were down.
American Woodcock — Minnesota is the only state or province that had a significantly increasing population trend, according to figures for 2015. In the central region — includes Minnesota — hunters spend 284,200 days afield, and harvested 145,700 birds. That figures out to half a bird per hunter per day. The harvest for 2015-2016 season was 33 percent less than the average for 1999-2014. It was up three percent from the previous season. Information is provided by hunters to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Regrading the average take of half a bird per day afield, Woodcock once flushed fly in an erratic pattern. One folk name for the bird is mudbat. Muddy wet habitat is a good place to look for the birds. Bat, well, you know what a bat’s flight path looks like. Woodcock are a challenge to hunt.
Ross’s Geese — Information comes from Canadian reseachers who study the birds at Karrak Lake, in Nunavut, in northern Canada. The current estimate is 700,000 nesting birds. The population is regarded as stable.
Canada Goose — population in the Mississippi River flyway is reported as trending towards steady, although 2016 population was down an estimated 6 percent. Population was estimated at 1.5 million birds. Cackling Goose numbers rose by an estimated 8 percent.
Snow Geese — the concern is too many, not too few. The birds are said to be overwhelming nesting habitat.
White-fronted Geese — Mid-continent population down an estimated 3 percent in 2016 to an estimated 770,000.
Emperor Geese — This arctic nester, estimated population 79,000, was down 19 percent in the 2016 count.
Brant — There are two populations, Atlantic and Pacific Western High Arctic. Both populations grew, the former by 42 percent to a total estimate of 158,000 birds, the latter by 3 percent to 140,000.
Tundra Swan — There are western and eastern populations, divided by winter residence. Minnesota sees birds of the eastern population, many of which stop on the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota to eat and rest. They winter along the coast of Maryland and North Carolina. The estimated eastern population is 113,000 birds, a decline of 3 percent from the previous year.