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MOLT MIGRATION OF POSTBREEDING FEMALE MALLARDS FROM SUISUN MARSH, CALIFORNIA

GREGORY S. YARRIS, M. ROBERT MCLANDRESS AND ALISON E. H. PERKINS* California Waterfowl Association, 4630 Northgate Blvd., Suite 150, Sacramento, CA 95834

Abstract. We monitored postbreeding movements of 34 Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) hens that nested in Suisun Marsh, California, in 1987 using radio telemetry. Hens began leaving Suisun Marsh in late May, and 50% had departed by mid-June. We located 27 of 34 hens from late June through September during aerial searches; 25 hens had migrated north out of the study area, and two remained near the nesting area. We determined the molting areas of 20 hens: nine in Oregon and 11 in California. These molting areas were 12-536 km from nesting sites. Wetlands used by molting Mallards were dominated by bulrush (Scirpus spp.) and cattail (Typha spp.), were traditionally flooded during summer, and often associated with lakes or rivers. Molting areas of seven hens located at least once after leaving the study area were not determined, and seven other hens were never relocated indicating probable migration north of the search area. Two hens were recaptured in 1988 and radio-tracked to molting areas used the previous year, 121 and 484 km north of the breeding area. Mallards appear to exhibit site fidelity to molting areas. Migrating to an area with preferred molting habitat may enhance survival during the flightless period and early part of the hunting season.

The Condor 96136-45
8 The Cooper Ornithological Smety 1994
 

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I'm curious, being that they did that survey 21 years ago.....how they would distribute themselves now.

In '87...the habitat emphasis was still geared alot for wintering ground, feed, Timothy, etc. Not near as much summer brood water and roundstem/ cattail as we see now.
 

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Has the summer moulting habitat changed that much? If so, I'd think that a lot of ducks would go there for their molt. If not, they'd probably go to more traditional areas.

One of the reasons I cited this abstract was to show how far ducks will migrate (over 300 miles) to find a safe place to moult. I am sure they'd stay close if the habitat was suitable. In fact, I think a home area of 3 acres could produce 100 mallards a year. Year after year. :biggrin:

Tom*
 
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