The Duck Outlook

The Duck Outlook

According to the report Waterfowl Population Status, 2019, released by the US Fish & Wildlife Service in late August: Although North America’s spring duck population declined, most species remained above long-term averages. The report is based on annual surveys that have been conducted since 1955 by the USF&WS, the Canadian Wildlife Service and several state, provincial and private organizations. It is used as a basis for many waterfowl-management decisions, including setting hunting regulations.

38.90 Million

Estimated breeding-duck population—representing a 6 percent decrease from the 2018 number but still 10 percent above the long-term average. (This is the first time since 2008 that the number has fallen below 40 million.)

9.42 Million

Estimated number of mallards—and a 2 percent increase from 2018. Unfortunately, the population decreased 2 percent in the Eastern Survey Area, which will affect the Atlantic Flyway.


Increase from 2018 in the gadwall population—to 3.26 million. This number is 61 percent above the long-term average.


Decrease from 2018 in the redhead population—to 732,000, which is right at the long-term average. This was the largest-percentage decrease of any species.

4.99 Million

Estimated number of May ponds across the US and Canada. This was 5 percent below both last year’s number and the long-term average. With May ponds playing a large role in duck production, this goes a long way toward explaining the decrease in the overall duck population.

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