October 22, 2003 – Migration Update

The Issue Number 10 of Waterfowler.com Journal is in the mail while hunters across much of the nation suffer from the summer time blues.

Hello, folks, and, as always, welcome to Waterfowler.com.

Fall seems to be on a vacation and it looks like summer was on the fill-in list for last week. Cold weather will return though and the migration will kick back into gear, when is the only question?

The latest issue of WFC Journal is fanning out to members across the US and abroad. To help us keep track be sure to stop by the WFC Journal Online Forum and let us know when your Journal arrives.

And now, on to the Migration Report.


Warm weather has taken control of most of the continent. With waters even in the far northern reaches of MB still open it is no wonder that the migration is moving slowly.

Calendar ducks and light geese are making the most southward progress, but until Fall returns and waters harden any mass movement of birds is on hold.

Cooler weather is forecast to sweep across most of Canada over the next few days so things may be looking up. Keeping one eye on the weather forecast and the other on the skies is going to be crucial to success as the weather shifts. Waterfowl, thus far long delayed in their migration, will most likely make a big jump south when the next cold snap hits. The hour, after all, is getting late.


Record rainfall in the Pacific Northwest has turned valleys into oceans and served to scatter ducks far and wide in much of coastal WA. Drier weather is ahead but with it, warmer weather is predicted. As the high water recedes conditions should improve but many area WMAs have been hard hit by the high water and may be closed for some time. Hunters are advised to check with local Game and Fish agencies for more information before heading out to public hunting areas.

Inland, mallards are still in fair supply along much of the Snake and Columbia rivers but these birds have been hunted hard and have become increasingly difficult to decoy. A growing influx of new ducks should slowly improve hunting over the weekend though. Reduced spreads and light calling have been better producers on recent outings.

Further south along the flyway smaller ducks are in good supply with teal, wigeon and gadwall holding the majority of spaces in hunter’s bags.


Lesser dark geese are making their showing in the upper reaches of the flyway but the big push of greaters and puddle ducks was backordered by the recent warm, if not down right hot, weather. Temps will return to the cool side of the thermometer this week and should improve hunting for all and sundry.

For unknown reasons bird numbers in the mid level state jumped last week. Although the reports are scattered the general trend was an increase in puddle and diving ducks as well as geese. Moderating weather can only be seen as good news for the upcoming week, though a stronger cold font would be more than welcome.


The first big news out of the Northern Tier of the flyway is above average number of waterfowl recorded in both the Upper Mississippi and Lower Illusions River surveys. In fact, the counts for both areas are above the ten year average and in some cases have hit new records. The general opinion is that this is due, at least in part, to dry conditions in much of the region, but the fact remains that the birds are there.

Eastern portions of the flyway have reported a steady movement of geese in from Canada and a slow rise in diver and puddle ducks as fall rolls on. The recent shift back to seasonable weather should improve bird movement for the upcoming weekend.

The lower half of the flyway looks to be feast or famine. Waterfowl are scattered but in high concentration where they are to be found. Unfortunately the largest body of birds is in lower tier states that have yet to kick off their season. AR and southern LA are holding awe-inspiring numbers of ducks, for this early in the year.


The winter storm moving across the upper flyway has kicked of a massive migration of Snow and Canada geese in and around Lake Champlain. In fact the upper Atlantic flyway continues to be the hot ticket for waterfowling in the US. Waterfowl of every variety have been pouring into the New England states as well as the inland portions of NY and PA.

Mid flyway states have received a respectable push of birds over the past week and woodduck numbers, in particular, are impressive as far south as the Carolinas.

As snow falls across the upper flyway birds should start to move down the coast and boost numbers on of new birds as southern and mid latitude states gear up for their openers.

After reassuring reports out of the breeding grounds this summer, hunters have been waiting to see what the fall migration would hold. Thus far a tug of war weather pattern between summer and fall has brought very mixed reports and little in the way of major migrations. Dry conditions throughout much of the central US has the main body of the early migration scattered and hunters are having to work extra hard to see the proof of the increase in overall waterfowl numbers.

With October winding down “Trick or Treat?” seems the most appropriate question for the 2003 – 2004 waterfowling season, at least thus far.

About Webmaster

Publisher and Webmaster of Waterfowler.com.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply