Did you know we have a dedicated group of pilot biologists? Today, Jerome Ford, our Assistant Director for Migratory Birds, tells about one of their important jobs:
The 2014 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey has begun! Our pilot biologists and their on-board observers are taking to the skies with support from crews on the ground. The pilots have a bird’s eye view from 150 feet in the air as they fly throughout Canada and the northern United States. They fly more than 55,000 miles every year, over lakes, rivers, marshes and other wetlands counting ducks, geese and swans — a distance equivalent to more than two times around the world!
Habitat in southwestern South Dakota. You can follow our effort to conserve the prairie at #ConserveThePrairies. Photo by Brenda Kelly/USFWS
Early reports from the pilot biologists and their crews are promising. Alberta received good snowpack during the winter, and it appears much of the melt accumulated and renewed many of the wetlands. The conditions seem very good, and duck numbers are coming in above average. In southern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan, conditions look excellent, and the pilots have noticed how much more water is around this year compared to last year. In southern Saskatchewan, pilots are seeing more green-winged teal than last year, while western South Dakota is yielding good numbers of gadwall, blue-winged teal, mallard and northern shoveler, with a scattering of pintail.