• Aaron Yetter

Mallard week: Yetter's blog from the sky

Signs come of the influx of mallards into Illinois, at least along the Mississippi River. That is right on schedule for the week before Thanksgiving.

Aaron Yetter writes about what he saw in his aerial surveys in his latest blog.

He does the aerial surveys for the Illinois Natural History Survey along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Survey numbers are posted at

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources links the surveys on their site at

Here is Yetter's latest blog:

November 27th, 2015 – Aerial Waterfowl Inventory Blog

We completed the waterfowl survey on November 24th of Thanksgiving week. There was

significant ice on many of the northern locations; however, ice was breaking up with

the warmer temperatures later in the week.

Thanksgiving week is typically the “big push,” when mallards arrive in large numbers,

and duck hunters get excited. This was exactly what happened on the Mississippi River

where total duck abundance (540,060) was 30% above the 10-yr average.

Cannon and Dardenne refuges were loaded up with ducks, and most of the other locations

along the Mississippi had above average numbers of mallards. Port Louisa had the most

ducks I have seen there in my 11 years of flying the waterfowl survey. Additionally,

the bluebills have arrived on Pool 19. A substantial raft was observed just below Nauvoo

on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.

The story was very different along the Illinois River. Total duck numbers (176,260) were 28%

below average, and mallards were down 36% from where they should be. The only count

with fewer ducks this fall was the October 14th survey. Ducks weren’t distributed evenly

along the Illinois River either where a third of the birds were observed along a small stretch

of the river near Chillicothe. I think we had a movement of birds into the Illinois Valley

during the third week of November, but the below average duck food along the river

coupled with the frigid temperatures on November 21-22 forced the ducks further south.

A duck hunter can only hope another flight of mallards will arrive from the prairies soon! For

more information on the waterfowl surveys check out our web page at

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