Aerial Surveys

Aerial surveys of waterfowl using wetlands associated with shorelines of the lower Great Lakes were started by the Canadian Wildlife Service in 1968, and were conducted at irregular intervals during spring and fall migration seasons for the next 20 years (Dennis et al. 1984, Dennis and North 1988). In the late 1970s, the area which had the greatest number of “waterfowl days” during both spring and fall migration was the Long Point area (Dennis et al. 1984). However, further surveys of Long Point’s wetlands conducted in 1984 documented declines in waterfowl use; consequently, additional surveys were carried out in 1987 and in 1988 to determine the extent and nature of the decline (Dennis and North 1988).

Aerial surveys were started again in the 1990s by Long Point Waterfowl to assess waterfowl use of the Long Point area and to compare results with those of the Canadian Wildlife Service during the period 1974/75 to 1988 (Knapton 1997; Petrie 1998). Long Point Waterfowl surveys started in 1991, and have been carried out annually since then during both spring and fall.  The results of the surveys are critical to all aspects of the Long Point Waterfowl research program.  We are also glad to make these results available to other researchers, waterfowl hunters and bird enthusiasts.

Mid-winter Waterfowl Survey & Lower Great Lakes January Waterfowl Survey

The mid-winter Waterfowl Survey (MWWS) has been conducted annually in North America since 1935.  This survey was established to provide waterfowl managers with an index to the relative abundance and distribution of wintering waterfowl in portions of North America.  This survey is flown during the first week of January and encompasses ice-free shorelines, rivers and other wetlands. In the lower Great Lakes, the MWWS is flown along the shorelines of Lakes Ontario, Erie and St. Clair and along the Niagara, Detroit and St. Clair rivers.  Long Point Waterfowl in collaboration with the Canadian Wildlife Service have been flying the mid-winter survey since 1998.

In 2002, Long Point Waterfowl initiated the Lower Great Lakes January Waterfowl Survey to better index over-wintering populations of waterfowl in this region.  This survey includes the entire shoreline (Canadian and American sides) of Lakes Ontario, Erie and St. Clair and the Niagara, Detroit and portions of the St. Lawrence River.  Long Point Waterfowl works in collaboration with the Canadian Wildlife Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Ohio Division of Wildlife and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to fly and summarize indices of over-wintering waterfowl populations.

Mid-summer Mute Swan Survey

Long Point Waterfowl has been conducting the mid-summer Mute Swan survey since 2005.  The mid-summer Mute Swan survey is flown every 3 years and is used to estimate Mute Swan populations and productivity (i.e. number of young produced and the number of young/breeding pair).  This survey
also monitors the expansion of this non-native waterfowl species throughout North America and the lower Great Lakes. Results from the Great Lakes survey (Canadian side) have shown that Mute Swan populations continue to increase  (increased from 2,894 birds in 2005 to 3,062 in 2011) and their range within the lower Great Lakes.  Control of Mute Swans is currently taking place in many U.S. states and proposals to de-list Mute Swans from protection in Ontario have been submitted.  The mid-summer Mute Swan survey helps to monitor the success of these control initiatives and can provide a basis for control in areas where Mute Swans are continuing to expand.


Project Sponsors and Partners

Canadian Wildlife Service
Long Point Waterfowl
Kenneth M. Molson Foundation
Uplands Charitable Foundation

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