This winter saw an increase in waterfowl along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay shoreline and Atlantic coast.That corresponds to my personal experiences this year; there have been huge flocks of Canada Geese in many of the fields that I pass by on my daily commute, but the flocks of diving ducks (mainly Buffleheads) that I see off the beach, while persistent, have been fairly small compared to some years.
While pilots and biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) counted fewer diving and dabbling ducks this winter than they did in the 2012 Midwinter Waterfowl Survey, these same crews counted more geese.
Resident Canada geese can pose a problem for rural, suburban and urban residents alike, and are considered overabundant in the region. While the birds do provide hunters with a chance for recreation, resident geese can overgraze wetlands and lawns and leave their droppings to pollute local rivers and streams. While the Midwinter Waterfowl Survey does not make a distinction between resident and migratory geese—as both stocks look the same during an aerial survey—DNR researchers do monitor the resident population using leg bands recovered from hunters.Speaking of which, I noticed the pair of long-term resident geese getting set to move into the pond at work today. While not quite as intense as the fight between Bill Murry and the Gopher in Caddyshack, the war between the geese and our gardener is pretty amusing: