Migratory Bird Management
American Breeding Waterfowl Survey in Alaska
breeding populations of ducks and other waterbirds have been surveyed by aircraft
in Alaska every spring since 1957 as part of the North American Waterfowl Breeding
Pair Survey. The survey team in Alaska consists of a pilot and an observer. The
pilot is not only responsible for flying the aircraft but also for identifying
and counting birds as he zips along at 100 mph, 150 ft above the ground. The survey
consists of a series of flightlines (blue lines in above map), throughout Alaska's
wetlands, that are really transects or rectangular plots 400 meters wide, each
person observing 200 meters from their side. The survey is flown from mid-May
to mid-June each year when waterfowl are nesting. The team uses tape recorders
to record its observations then transcribes the data into computers in the evenings.
So by the end of the survey all the data are in the computer and can be summarized.
By estimating the number of ducks seen each year, duck populations can be tracked
to see if they are increasing or decreasing. The results are available in a timely
manner for use in developing annual hunting regulations. In the late 1980's we
began doing EXPANDED BREEDING PAIR SURVEYS on some of
the wetlands. We increased the number of flightlines and located them systematically
to see if we could improve population estimates and to be able to map the distribution
of the various species.
Alaska - Yukon Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey - 2011 (pdf)
Last Updated: May 14, 2012