NewsAbout UsLife HistoryProgramsLinks Home
Population Monitoring Program

Possessing annual estimates of black duck population characteristics, including abundance, sex and age structure, and vital rates (i.e., survival and recruitment) is critical to fulfilling the mission of the BDJV and achieving the goals of the NAWMP.  These estimates form the basis of black duck adaptive management and allow researchers and managers to assess model predictions, evaluate responses of black ducks to management, and track progress towards NAWMP goals.  Black duck population monitoring consists of three complementary programs: pre-season banding, the Mid-Winter Inventory, and Eastern Breeding Waterfowl Survey. 

Operational Programs Pilot Programs

Banding Program Mid-Winter Inventory Eastern Breeding Waterfowl Survey

Eastern Breeding Waterfowl Survey (BPOP): Information and data on the black duck breeding population have been limited because the species breeds in eastern Canada, which is outside the traditional mid-continent breeding survey area (Fig. 1). Due to lack of information about the breeding population and limitations of the MWI, a breeding population survey program was initiated in 1990. The breeding population survey is conducted throughout black duck breeding range by the CWS and USFWS. However, the two agencies use different protocols. The CWS conducts plot surveys from helicopter, whereas the USFWS survey consists fix-winged transects. Estimates from the two surveys are integrated in a hierarchical model to produce a single estimate of the black duck breeding population. For the foreseeable future, the mid-winter and breeding population surveys will be conducted and used in research and management. However, it is anticipated that research and management will place greater reliance on the breeding population survey as the time series lengthens. The goals of the BDJV population monitoring program are to assess trends in the black duck population to evaluate progress towards NAWMP goals and develop, implement, and refine monitoring methodology. The USFWS produces black duck breeding population estimates at two different spatial scales-“core” and “total”. The core survey area has been surveyed since 1990 and the resulting data were used to calculate the NAWMP population goal and in the development of the Black Duck Adaptive Harvest Management framework. The total survey area has been monitored since 1998.


In 2010, the estimated breeding population (in the core area) was 565,000 (95% CI 479,000—624,300).  This estimate was 5% lower than the 2009 estimate (596,200 [95% CI 523,000—684,300) and 32% lower than the NAWMP Population Goal (830,000).   The 2010 estimate constitutes the 4th consecutive decline in the estimated black duck breeding population (in the core survey area).   The 2010 estimate for the entire survey area 804,000 (95% CI 667,000—1,040,000) which is 11% lower than the 2009 estimate (900,000 [95% CI 735,000—1,200,000).  However, at the scale of the total survey area the black duck population has not shown a consistent decline over the past 4 years. 


Black duck breeding grounds in central Quebec. (photo credit: P. Devers). Bell 206 Long Ranger Helicopter (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources) used to survey breeding black ducks in the eastern boreal forest. (photo credit: P. Devers). Cessna 206 Amphibious aircraft (U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service) used to survey breeding black ducks in the eastern boreal forest. (photo credit: P. Devers).