Waterfowl Studies 


Waterfowl monitoring is an essential component of any biological abatement or assessment program that has huntable populations of waterfowl close to contaminated habitat or food sources. In todayís world, the associations between human habitations and pristine aquatic environs are becoming less and less frequent. Corporate managers and governing agencies are increasingly being called upon to demonstrate scientifically-defensible policies regarding public health and general population exposure limits. While fish consumption advisories have been widely posted on contaminated waterways for years, similar warnings for human consumption of waterfowl would be largely ineffective because of the highly mobile nature of ducks and geese. Human health risks, even from uncontaminated birds, can occur when waterfowl take up residence near airport runways, or inhabit public beaches - causing dangerously high bacterial counts in water from fecal deposition. An effective waterfowl monitoring program can give managers the tools they need to educate local communities, and minimize the publicís exposure to unnecessary health risks. Data from waterfowl monitoring programs have even been used to help ease federal restrictions on waterfowl, allowing individual states more control over resident waterfowl populations.


  • To assess the potential for, and minimize the possibility of, waterfowl being a human health hazard.
  • To provide long-term data regarding local waterfowl diversity, numbers, and temporal shifts in populations.
  • To make recommendations, and to provide on-site relief, for dealing with nuisance waterfowl.
  • To provide a long-term record for unusual and state-listed bird sightings.


Surveys have been conducted, at varying (1-4x/mo) frequencies over the last decade, in which all waterfowl along a given route are recorded. This has resulted in the formation of an extensive database, put together by experienced personnel aided by the use of high-quality optics and field-portable computers. In addition to waterfowl observations, incidental sightings of all unusual birds (e.g., rare, out of typical range, state- or federally-listed species) are recorded.

A roundup of Canada geese is conducted each summer, during their flightless molt period. This allows for the attachment of neck-collars and/or leg-bands (for future identification of individuals in the field), and for the off-site translocation of nuisance geese. It also provides the opportunity to obtain data on whole-body radioactivity levels (~400 geese scanned since 1995) and to remove contaminated individuals from the population.


Waterfowl monitoring results are available for sites in:

For more information regarding Waterfowl Studies, please contact Kelly Roy.

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Last Modified: April 17, 2001