1996 Christmas Bird Counts
Friday, January 3
• Old River, P. D. Hulce (713) 863-1142
Saturday, January 4
•BuffaloBayouCONFIRMED, Bob Honig (713)
665-6963 or Doug Williams (713) 660-7625
• Beech Creek, David Baker (409) 899-1878 or
•Lake O the Pines CONFIRMED (Marion
Sunday, January 5
• Sea Rim State ParkCONFIRMED, John Whittle
(409) 722-4193 or Rubert Hurt (409) 724-2202
Note: Counts marked with an asterisk (*) are
viaNETFO, spokesperson is Hazel Bluhm.
We are waiting to hear about:
•AransasNWR, Tom Stehn(512) 286-3559
•Spring Creek, John Jortes (713) 444-8369 or
Calvin Blakely (713) 358-5407
• Chaparrel WMA, Jimmy Rutledge (210) 676-
• Rio Corona, Gene Blacklock (512) 882-7232
Whew! What a list. If you can check
P.D.'s web page for the current information.
Don't miss his CBC Learning Corner at the OG's
Good News for the Prairie
Boosted by two consecutive years of
good habitat conditions, duck breeding populations climbed 5 percent this spring to the
highest level since 1979, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (USFWS) says.
The annual breeding duck survey recorded an estimated 37.5 million ducks, up from
35.9 million in 1995. The survey samples 1.3
million square miles across the north-central
United States, western and northern Canada,
and Alaska and estimates the approximate
numbers of ducks in important breeding areas.
Populations of four species (gadwall,
blue-winged teal, northern shoveler, and can-
vasback) reached record highs. In particular,
blue-winged teal, up 25 percent to 6.4 million,
and northern shoveler, up 15 percent to 3.4
million, showed substantial gains.
Why the increase? First, Abundant precipitation and good habitat conditions on the
breeding grounds. Second, conservation efforts
over the last decade restored and conserved
vital wetlands in key duck production areas.
Duck populations naturally fluctuate
over time as habitat and water conditions
change, but the kind of recovery from the
drought in the mid-1980s and early 1990s is not
possible if not for the habitat conservation
efforts, according to USFWS.
The overall number of ponds in the
survey area rose 18 percent to 7.5 million, the
second highest level ever recorded. The pond
count in Canada rose 29 percent, with the
biggest gains in southern Alberta and
Saskatchewan. The U.S. pond count was similar
to last year but still 84 percent above the long-
In addition, other government programs
such as the Conservation Reserve Program and
the Wetland Reserve Program have conserved
significant tracts of wildlife habitat in recent
years. For example, since 1986, the North
American Waterfowl Management Plan, protected , restored or enhanced 2.5 million acres.
Sportsmen and conservation organizations have conserved and restored millions of
acres of prime habitat. Laws such as the
Swampbuster provisions of the Farm Bill and the
wetland protection provisions of the Clean
Water Act also conserve waterfowl habitat.
While some species expereinced robust
increases (e.g. mallard), American widgeon
populations experienced a significant decline to
2.3 million from 2.6 million in 1995. Populations
of pintail, green-winged teal, scaup, canvas-
back, redhead, and gadwall are at levels similar