Based on published literature, we provide the following duck migration forecast for October-December 2012. The prediction is developed using available research and literature regarding reaction of ducks to weather severity and emerging climate science that increases predictability of winter weather in North America. However, weather severity in North American should not be considered an absolute predictor of duck migration. A multitude of other factors potentially influence migration and winter distributions of ducks, including food and habitat availability, evolutionary and ecological mechanisms, body condition, and human disturbance.
El Niño conditions are developing over the equatorial Pacific and are expected to influence weather patterns throughout North America through fall-winter 2012-2013. The “Snow Advance Index” is not yet available. We will produce another late-season forecast (i.e., December 2012 – February 2013) when the Snow Advance Index is available.
1) Temperatures in September and early-October in the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyways have been near normal
2) Warmer than normal conditions are predicted for the Prairies, Mid-west and Great Lakes regions from October – December which may delay migration to mid- and southern latitudes.
3) However, dry conditions also persist in these regions and lack of food resources may increase likelihood of movement of ducks south (or east and west) in search of adequate wetlands and food.
The Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service indicates that the 2012 total duck breeding population was 48.6 million, and the majority of species were above their long-term average. However, availability of these birds to hunters is dependent upon many factors, particularly weather. Although historical patterns during El Niño episodes normally result in conditions less than ideal for large-scale early season migrations of ducks to the southern end of the Mississippi and Atlantic flyways, a strongly negative Arctic Oscillation Index may cause movements of ducks down the flyways.
Thus, pay close attention to weekly dabbling duck migration forecasts on this website.
Our duck migration forecast is updated each Monday morning October 2012–January 2013 and provides a 5-day forecast for duck migration for the coming week using weather data available on the internet.
Stay tuned for the late-season forecast coming at the beginning of November!