Bird Numbers

Discussion in 'South Dakota Flyway Forum' started by nebgoosehunter, Dec 11, 2018.

  1. Traxion

    Traxion Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
    1,908
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2002
    Location:
    South Dakota
    Lots of good thoughts.

    -I don't think anyone will argue farming practices in Canada are the cause for the shift in migration time from early to much later as a whole. But that shift is what we've known since the late 90's. That is a separate shift from what I am wondering about now.

    -I can't agree with the theory that birds simply go by survival and stay as far north as they can. If that were the case, Lake Oahe would be full of birds right now. There are unquestionably birds that are more hardy than others and stay in poor conditions. However, there are still plenty that migrate much further south than needed given conditions.

    -Some birds are obviously calendar migrators. They go on a schedule. But I also wonder if geese are "location" migrators as well. As they have the ability to home back to where they were hatched, perhaps they do the same with wintering areas as well.

    -That brings up the pressure issue. I can't comment on how pressure in the Pierre area equates to other areas. No unheard of to have 45 groups of hunters in a relatively condensed area (including public and private land hunters). However, it is constant for 8 weeks. If there were a group of birds that "home" to the area, has pressure changed that and they now go elsewhere? Maybe we had a group of 80k birds that liked to stop. Pressure has moved them somewhere else. Our big years were just the alignment of conditions to allow more birds to stop?

    -The bottom line right now is there are certainly birds short stopping us to the north. But there are plenty going by perfectly good open water and lots of food on main migration path. Why is this happening? Where are they going? That is the questions we are wondering about.

    In terms of the project-

    -Data is fun to deal with (not). Formats, etc. are a pain. Then add in selection of data. Take snow cover. Do you use an analysis of annual snowfall? Do you select snow cover on February 1st? One storm changes the data completely since it is just a snapshot.

    -Crops I think do need looked into more. However, the data monster flares up again. Not all counties report every year it seems. I am going to try to run just Hughes and Sully in SD. Dean, what two or three counties do the birds use most up there in late season?

    -One are we have not explored at all is band recovery data. I think there could be some very neat trends there. But I have not even looked at it yet.

    More thoughts later...
     
    GK1 likes this.
  2. Dean Nelson

    Dean Nelson Moderator Goose Hunting/North Dakota Moderator

    Messages:
    9,078
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2002
    Location:
    Bismarck North Dakota
    Burleigh, morton, Oliver, mercer and McClean. Big difference between our areas is we have the river closed to goose hunting from just south of the city of washburn all the way to the dam. We also have a number of large coal mines in this area that control huge areas of reclaimed mine ground that acts more or less as a refuge. We also close goose hunting at 2 on 4 days a week. The areas in red are the rough outline of the closed areas.
    20190202_194128.jpg
     
  3. Traxion

    Traxion Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
    1,908
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2002
    Location:
    South Dakota
    So not much work done on the project, when we do I will update.

    However, as I have been thinking about this, my hypothesis is-

    As our climate has warmed and agricultural practices have changed throughout the flyway (all of it, not just one state or province), the birds have changed their patterns. They are able to stay in areas longer, reducing the need for unnecessary migration flights. While staying longer, they have access to high quality food sources that lengthen their ability to stay and "weather out" bad conditions. And, once they do finally go, their migration paths may change due to limited open water, foods, etc. which may push them around/over past "hot spots" or large staging areas. **This is based on nothing scientific, just a guess thinking about things.**

    Now one would think Lake Oahe and the ag areas surrounding in SD would be a no fail stop for the geese. But maybe them staying in other places longer, staying healthier, and then migrating later, takes them to different locations that in the past? Because other areas still see plenty of birds, it isn't like there is a line where they all sit. They're being displaced differently, that is for sure.
     
    Cocklebur and dan_sd like this.
  4. Dean Nelson

    Dean Nelson Moderator Goose Hunting/North Dakota Moderator

    Messages:
    9,078
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2002
    Location:
    Bismarck North Dakota
    You seeing much for birds now? We keep getting these little 2 inch snow falls but it's really starting to add up and definitely deeper them what most geese will want to deal with.
     
  5. jpallen

    jpallen Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
    1,103
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    NE South Dakota
    I think we have a few more birds now. Somewhat hard to tell because Oahe just froze about 14 days ago so it pushed all those birds below the dam and concentrated what there was
     
  6. Cocklebur

    Cocklebur Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
    698
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2014
    Location:
    Sacramento, California
    Very interesting to hear everyone's hypothesis regarding the birds this year and I tend to agree with everything that has been noted. A combination of agriculture, open water, and sanctuary has made it easier now than ever for a migrating duck and goose.

    Being I am a CA native and ducks are a very hot commodity on this state we are all deliberating the same topics. Some friends of mine in the butte sink, members of high dollar private clubs have shot somewhere near 58% of average. In an are that is typically lights out from December on.

    The more recent trend with massive sanctuaries has also played a role i believe in to the poor hunting. When it is sunny and 60 degrees with not an ounce of wind the ducks have absolutely no reason to fly around. They sit for days on end in massive food plots devoid of hunters.

    Agriculture also plays a significant role in the fact that birds now have super foods like corn, rice, and soybeans to feast on up and down the flyway.

    In years past where agriculture was at a minimum, birds would hit historic stop overs and the hunting would follow. Now there is simply too much quality to go around.

    That is my two cents
     
    brentbullets likes this.

Share This Page