Monday, March 16, 2015

Chesapeake Bay Waterfowl

Many of North America's best known waterfowl can be found on the Chesapeake Bay. Located along the Atlantic Flyway, the estuary is an important stopover and wintering area for waterfowl.

During spring, mallards, black ducks, green-wing teal, and Canada geese nest in saltwater marshes of Chesapeake Bay. Farther up the watershed, wood ducks raise their young.

In summer, some waterfowl become secretive and move into backwater hideaways where abundant vegetation conceals their presence. In contrast, mallards and Canada geese often remain in areas where human activity occurs. 

As days shorten and nights become cooler, flocks of migratory Canada geese appear in the skies over the watershed. By late fall, surf scoters and long-tailed ducks appear on the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

By mid winter, waterfowl populations increase as residents and early season migrants are joined by Atlantic brant, snow geese, and tundra swans. Despite cold temperatures, many of the watershed's creeks and rivers become feeding areas for common mergansers, red-breasted mergansers, and hooded mergansers.