Duck population estimates based on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission mid-winter aerial survey show a lower than usual number of mallards while the total number of ducks are holding steady. How do the numbers break down?

An update from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission:

[The] annual midwinter waterfowl survey by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists resulted in an estimate of 1 million total ducks in the Delta, a figure on par with recent years. However,  mallard numbers were noticeably down for this period. 

The aerial survey was conducted Jan. 7-9 in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (the Delta), the Arkansas River Valley and in southwest Arkansas. About half of the 1 million total ducks estimated in the Delta were mallards. The Delta's total number was above the 2009-2018 long-term midwinter average, but the mallard estimate was only about 64 percent of the long-term average. Mallards typically account for 71 percent of all ducks during the midwinter survey but in this most recent count were only 53 percent of all ducks in the Delta.

"Ducks were spread widely across the Delta, presumably in response to widespread habitat made available by a relatively wet fall and early winter," said Luke Naylor, the AGFC's waterfowl program director. The highest mallard concentration in the survey was found in the Lower St. Francis. "That is not typically a hot spot," he said. "More typical mallard strongholds accounted for a large portion of the remaining mallards." Naylor said those zones include the Bayou Meto-Lower Arkansas, Black-Upper White and Lower White rivers.

Observers in the Delta again estimated high numbers of arctic-nesting geese (as was noted in this space last week before the survey), including over 1 million light (lesser snow and Ross's) geese and nearly 270,000 greater white-fronted geese.  

For more of the Arkansas Wildlife Waterfowl report, head here.