If you have noticed this winter that there just does not seem to be the usual amount of wintering waterfowl in deep South Texas, then you are not alone. Historically, the Lower Laguna Madre is home to an estimated 80 percent of the million plus redhead ducks residing in North America.
Redhead ducks, with the male’s shimmering cinnamon head, are traditionally one of the most abundant avian visitors. While redheads are present this winter, they are not nearly as concentrated as in past years, and other ducks such as the American wigeon and Pintails also appear to be less abundant.
However, the recently completed mid-winter survey by Texas Parks and Wildlife revealed astonishingly that migratory duck numbers statewide are actually up approximately 30 percent from last year. So, if wintering duck numbers are up significantly statewide, why do we perceive reduced numbers in the Lower Laguna Madre?
Well, it turns out that the 3.87 million ducks tallied statewide are spread out much more than in past years. One of the rainiest autumns on record statewide has just about every pond and lake filled to the brim, and many waterfowl simply did not have to travel as far south to find forage and suitable aquatic habitat.
Also, with the abundance of water ducks were able to avoid concentrating around traditional hunting grounds, which frustrated many of the states some 100,000 waterfowl hunters. According to the recent survey, the Texas coastal region held 1.92 million ducks, the highest number of wintering ducks of the state’s seven surveyed regions and up a remarkable 260 percent from last year.
So, the good news is that the ducks are apparently here in coastal South Texas in abundance, they are just very scattered.