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Breeding Ducks Question

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Breeding Ducks Question
From year to year over the life of breeding ducks what is the range they will travel to find favorable breeding conditions? For example, let's say a breeding pair were born in Saskatchewan the previous year and return there in spring only to find dry, less than favorable conditions. Do they try and tough it out and make the best of what they have? Do they all jam into whatever water is there? Do they head back south and breed in the Dakotas where they may have found favorable conditions on their flight to Saskatchewan? Do they keep heading north maybe as far as the Northwest territories? Or let's put it another way, do they seek out favorable breeding grounds and cover thousands of miles, similar to their southward migration and move great distances to find food, cover, and protection? Just how far do they go to find the right conditions and do they ever throw in the towel and think "maybe next year."

Honestly, I've often thought about their wintering movements, but breeding movements I've not given that much thought to required breeding efforts and always hoped for widespread wet breeding grounds. We've all been told by DU and Delta that water on the breeding grounds equates to successful duck nesting and high numbers, and dry conditions will result in lower numbers. Okay, every duck hunter knows that, but just what are the typical responses by ducks trying to breed when their destination turns up dry? Press on? Go back? Keep looking? Settle? Give up?

Eric
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Re: Breeding Ducks Question In reply to
Eric

It?s called settling rate. It varies by species. Blue-winged teal will often settle the first suitable habitat on northward migration. Pintails will move tremendous distances in search of habitat and they are known to overfly the prairies if there is widespread drought. Those two species are probably the extremes. Many will return to the area where they fledged but if they can?t find suitable habitat then they will move on. Productive (number of successfully fledged young per pair) typically declines when birds move into the boreal forest or arctic breeding areas.
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Re: Breeding Ducks Question In reply to
Brad

Thanks for the insight. A couple weeks ago we saw some bluewing teal on one of our duck ponds. I wondered if they were running late to the breeding grounds or decided to breed this far south. Seems odd. A few years back we had a ringneck pair decide to nest on a nearby farm pond. That seemed ever odder. Their brood didn't survive since momma got squished by a car. Probably a lower chance of that happening on the prairie :)

Eric
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Re: Breeding Ducks Question In reply to
I love the work Paul Link with LDWF does tracking waterfowl! Check Paul's Instagram @plink_the_bander. His waterfowl tracking information is absolutely incredible!
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Re: Breeding Ducks Question In reply to
That was a great question, Eric and Brad, thanks for your input.
Al