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News Help with MassWildlife’s winter waterfowl survey

MassWildlife is asking the public’s assistance in reporting current waterfowl feeding locations for biologists to identify and count these birds.
1/02/2018
  • Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Canada geese and mallards in winter

WestboroughEvery 5 years, MassWildlife conducts a winter waterfowl survey of sites where people feed wild ducks and geese. While the feeding of wildlife is discouraged, there is no state law or regulation that prohibits feeding (though some municipalities do restrict or prohibit feeding). MassWildlife is asking the public’s assistance in reporting current waterfowl feeding locations for biologists to identify and count these birds.

The survey will be conducted statewide during January of 2018 and includes sites in urban, suburban, and rural areas near fresh, brackish, and salt water. Feeding sites range from municipal parks where many visitors come to feed the ducks to ducks in backyards feeding on spilled bird seed or handouts thrown out someone’s back door.

MassWildlife biologists will visit historic feeding sites from January 8 – 26, 2018. Because these locations can change over 5 years, public input is needed. If you know of a spot where waterfowl are being fed, please let us know by phone at 508-389-6321 or by e-mail at h.heusmann@state.ma.us. Please include the town and specific location where you’ve seen waterfowl being fed this January. If you are able, please also include the number of ducks and/or geese (preferably by species) that you see at a feeding site at one time. We are especially interested in detailed reports from Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

Mallards are by far the most common duck at feeding sites but other ducks may be observed as well. American black ducks are common and wood ducks, pintails, gadwalls, American wigeon, and hooded mergansers are seen on occasion.  Canada geese are common at many feeding sites.

MassWildlife’s survey started 45 years ago and documented the increase of mallards at feeding sites reaching peak numbers of over 20,000 mallards at 218 sites during the 1993 survey and declining thereafter. This decline can be attributed to more Canada geese utilizing the sites resulting in many areas being posted “No Feeding” because of the mess geese made. The last survey showed that the number of mallards was down to 9,700 at 139 sites along with nearly 1,600 geese (down from over 5,300 geese recorded during the 1998 survey).

Division of Fisheries and Wildlife 

MassWildlife is responsible for the conservation of freshwater fish and wildlife in the Commonwealth, including endangered plants and animals. MassWildlife restores, protects, and manages land for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy.

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