Every five years, since 1973, MassWildlife has conducted a winter waterfowl survey of sites where people feed wild ducks and geese. The next survey will take place in January 2018.
Designed primarily as a count of wintering mallards, the survey includes information on all waterfowl seen, including Canada geese. The statewide survey covers public and private property in city, suburban, and rural areas. Sites may be located on fresh water, salt water, and estuaries. Other feeding sites include parks, beaches, and backyard bird feeding stations. Because feeding locations change between each 5-year cycle, the most current information on artificial waterfowl feeding locations is valuable.
While MassWildlife discourages feeding of wildlife, there is no state law or regulation prohibiting this activity and the feeding of ducks on some sites has been going on for decades. Some municipalities do restrict or prohibit feeding. Mallards are by far the most common duck seen at feeding sites, but MassWildlife is also interested in obtaining information about other ducks and geese seen feeding at these sites: black ducks are commonly observed along with wood ducks, pintails, gadwalls, wigeons, and hooded mergansers. Canada geese are well known visitors to feeding sites and their presence is often the impetus for towns and cities to pass feeding prohibition bylaws.