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BANGOR, Maine -- The number of waterfowl wintering along Maine's coast this
year increased from last year's count, according to the annual Midwinter
Waterfowl Survey completed by Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and
Wildlife (MDIFW). An important factor behind the disparity in duck numbers
was milder weather and lack of ice this January compared with the extreme
cold and extensive coastal icing that characterized last year's survey. The
survey team of MDIFW wildlife biologist Andy Weik and U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service pilot-biologist John Bidwell traveled over the coast in a small
airplane, from the New Hampshire border to Cobscook Bay, during January 3-11
for the annual count of Maine's wintering waterfowl. This year they tallied
a total of 70,014 ducks (up from 44,077 in 2004) and 3,489 geese (up from
2,294 in 2004).
All species were found in greater or similar numbers this year in Maine as
compared to last year's unusually low count. As usual, the most frequently
observed duck was the common eider; the count of 34,794 eiders was
substantially greater than the 17,240 eiders counted last year, and is
similar to the most recent 10-year average of 33,669. The black duck count
was up considerably from last year as well, but remained below the 10-year
average of 18,419. Canada geese continued their long-term increase, while
goldeneyes posted their second strongest showing of the past 10 years.
The Midwinter Waterfowl Survey is conducted at the same time each winter in
each state in the Atlantic Flyway, from Maine through Georgia. Overall
status of wintering waterfowl populations are determined when Maine's data
are pooled with the other states' numbers. High numbers among some species
of ducks seen in Maine this January may be offset by lower counts in states
farther to the south, or vice versa. Within northern states such as Maine,
inland waterfowl move to the coast or migrate south when their inland
freshwater habitats freeze up, which typically occurs by early January (when
the survey is conducted).
Waterfowl counted this year (2004 numbers in parentheses) include: black
ducks, 14,027 (10,799); mallards, 2,198 (2,055); scaup, 160 (0); goldeneyes,
7,374 (6,783); buffleheads, 4,369 (4,012); mergansers, 2,298 (1,944);
long-tailed ducks, 1,995 (846); scoters, 2,702 (337); eiders, 34,794
(17,240); and Canada geese, 3,489 (2,290).
Due to the imprecision of the survey, annual fluctuations among counts
within a state may not equate to real changes in abundance; trends are best
assessed with a longer (5- to 10-year count average) view, and in the larger
context of the entire Atlantic Flyway.