Waterfowl Surveys

Waterfowl flock 512 x 281

Cross Creeks provides wintering habitat and protection for large numbers of waterfowl. In January duck populations will average 35,000 birds per day and during extremley cold weather these numbers may exceed 90,000 birds.


Waterfowl surveys have been conducted on Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge from the early 1960's. Both ground count and aerial survey methods have been utilized. Earlier surveys were conducted each week throughout the entire year with most counts occurring from the ground. In 1991, the refuge changed the waterfowl survey timing to bi-weekly counts from September 1 - April 15 and stated that the preferred survey method would be aerial surveys. In 1998 the surveys were further modified, changing the timing to bi-weekly counts from mid-October through the first week of March.

Currently, the surveys are conducted infrequently beginning in mid-October and ending in early March. Some of these surveys are now conducted using a fixed-wing aircraft with one observer in addition to the pilot, the rest are done by ground counts. The weather and plane availability more often impacts when aerial surveys can be conducted.

Attempts are made using the same observer to survey all the waterfowl habitats within the refuge following the same route during each survey period. The data is recorded by waterfowl species. In addition to waterfowl, bald eagles, golden eagles, sandhill cranes, white pelicans, and common loons are recorded when observed.


Survey Data 

The waterfowl surveys conducted on Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge tell us a lot about how the refuge is being utilized. This data is essential for our managers to make the best possible decisions for the benefit of the wildlife. Over time, the data can show trends and fluctuations of the presence of migrating waterfowl. 
 
This graph shows over 40 years of waterfowl survey data! A peak count refers to the highest number of ducks recorded during a given year. 

 
Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge
Aerial Waterfowl Count Surveys 
  
January 16-31, 2018November 16-30, 2018
January 1-15, 2017December 1-15, 2017
January 1-15, 2016December 1-15, 2016
 January 1-15, 2015December 1-15, 2015 
January 1-15, 2014 December 1-15, 2014
January 1-15, 2013 December 1-15, 2013 
January 1-15, 2012 December 1-15, 2012 
January 1-15, 2011 December 16-31, 2011 
January 1-15, 2010 December 1-15, 2010 
January 1-15, 2009 December 1-15, 2009 
January 1-15, 2008December 1-15, 2008