A woman with a braid in her hair looking through binoculars at a scrubby landscape

At Blackwater NWR, the best time for viewing waterfowl is between mid-October and mid-March. Wintering species include tundra swans, Canada and snow geese, and over 20 species of ducks. The most common ducks found here are mallards, black ducks, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, wigeon, and pintails. Although most waterfowl migrate north in the spring, some remain through the summer, using the protected areas of the Refuge to raise their young. These nesting waterfowl include Canada geese, mallards, black ducks, wood ducks, and blue-winged teal.

Want to know what birds have been recently seen at the refuge? We suggest visiting Cornell's eBird page for Blackwater. There you can see all the bird sightings that have recently been logged by refuge visitors. Better yet, join the eBird community and contribute to the sightings list!

Waterfowl Surveys

Blackwater NWR biologists and trained volunteers conduct waterfowl surveys primarily in the fall and winter.  Unless otherwise noted, these are ground surveys.  The biologists approximate the number of birds by driving a predetermined route around the refuge property.  These surveys provide a "snapshot" of the waterfowl present at the refuge during a given week. A spreadsheet of the weekly surveys can be found below.

Note from the March 25th survey: This represents our last count for the season.  Waterfowl numbers continue to drop (only 31 Canada Geese and 1 Snow Goose) while shorebirds are starting to move through.  While overall numbers are down, this week’s count had the highest species diversity of the season at 27. Highlights include Wilson Snipe (15), a pair of Pectoral Sandpipers, and a pair of Glossy Ibises flying over the observation platform and landing in the pool north of the platform. For the season, we conducted 22 counts, with a total count of 269,955 individuals and a total of 41 species.  Our weekly counts of individuals ranged from a low of 886 (Oct. 20, 2021) to a high of 25,988 (Jan. 6, 2022), and species from a low of 16 (3 times:  Oct. 20 and Nov. 10, 2021, and Feb. 1, 2022) to a high of 27 (March 25, 2022).  Until next season….

Related Documents

A checklist of birds that may be found on Blackwater NWR, with a seasonal occurrence rating for each species.


Table of weekly waterfowl surveys at Blackwater NWR for the fall/winter of 2021/22. A big thanks to our survey volunteers Ron Ketter and Steve Funderburk for conducting and compiling these surveys.