Ducks dropping from sky in record numbers on Illinois and Mississippi rivers

Ducks flock to the Illinois River recently.

Where did all the ducks come from?

That’s not something Illinois waterfowls typically ask at this point in November, but the Illinois and Mississippi rivers are hosting an unusual number of ducks right now.

The timing couldn’t be better. The central zone duck season opened Oct. 28 and the south central zone opens tomorrow (Nov.11).

Aaron Yetter, a waterfowl ecologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey who each fall conducts aerial waterfowl surveys along the two rivers, calculated that the number of ducks on the Mississippi River during the first week of November was 146 percent above the 10-year average and 86 percent above the late-October count.

“We had an influx of divers throughout the Mississippi River bordering Illinois, and we estimated 38,500 bluebills on Pool 19,” Yetter reported after his Nov. 6 survey flight. “Most noteworthy was the number of birds in confluence region of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Swan Lake, which is part of Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge, was holding about 324,000 ducks. This number is very large for the first week of November.”

According to Yetter, that total was the third-largest duck count at Swan Lake since the inception of the waterfowl surveys in 1948.

Read more about the duck situation in the Nov. 17 issue of Illinois Outdoor News.

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