Waterfowl Count

photo of Redheads on Seneca Lake
Redheads on Seneca Lake - ©Jim Pawlicki
photo of Blue-winged Teal at Forest Lawn
Blue-winged Teal at Forest Lawn

The New York State Ornithological Association (NYSOA) conducts an annual waterfowl count each January throughout the state’s 10 assigned regions, to assist the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in monitoring long-term population changes, bird conservation planning and environmental reviews. The Buffalo Ornithological Society has been participating in this effort since the project’s inception in 1955. The count area includes the Niagara River and adjacent waters of Lakes Erie and Ontario, and any productive open interior bodies of water.

The count period always begins the Saturday just before Martin Luther King Day (the third Monday in January) and ends the Sunday of the following weekend. Whenever possible the ideal "target date” is the first Sunday of the count period.

Final results of the waterfowl count in Western New York are published in The Prothonotary. Final state-wide results of the waterfowl count will be published in “The Kingbird” and will also posted on the NYSOA website at: http://www.nybirds.org/ProjWaterfowl.htm.

A 2010 review of the full 56 year count record for our region reveals that many species numbers fluctuate with no apparent trending increases or decreases in evidence. For some, there are simply not enough individuals tallied to be significant. However, a few species do stand out.

Canada Goose continues to show a steady upward climb begun in the mid-70s. Tundra Swan has enjoyed a striking upswing over the past 10 years. American Black Duck continues a steady decline begun in the mid-70s. Mallard, after its dramatic rise to a peak in 2004, has been dropping off slightly over the past few years. Erratic but gradual increases are noted for Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Pied-billed Grebe. Double-crested Cormorants continue to exhibit their dramatic rise which began in 1991.

The 2001 count holds the record of 71,801 individuals observed.

  Waterfowl Count Reporting Form

photo of Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

BOS Participation in New York’s Annual Mid-winter Bald Eagle Survey

Although the January Waterfowl Count in New York State no longer overlaps with the National Mid-winter Bald Eagle Survey, we were asked by the DEC to report any eagle sightings noted during the waterfowl count. The DEC, in turn, contributes the combined New York State census to the national Mid-winter Bald Eagle Survey, which is now coordinated nationally by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Final results of the Bald Eagle survey in Western New York are published in The Prothonotary with the waterfowl count summary. You can follow the DEC’s winter eagle research on the Internet at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/9381.html.

For each Bald Eagle sighting, the DEC requests the following information: Date, time, location, number of individuals, observer name & contact info.