Pintails: Yetter's blog aerial surveys

November 4, 2015

Here is Aaron Yetter's latest blog entry. And I really like the focus on one of my favorite ducks.


I really like his explanation of how he knows that the birds shown are pintails.


Well, I just like pintails, what can I say.


He does the aerial surveys for the Illinois Natural History Survey. 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 2nd, 2015 – Aerial Waterfowl Inventory Blog


It appeared as though the weather system that moved through the central United States over
Halloween weekend, brought only a few migrant waterfowl.  The Mississippi River duck

numbers were up 8% and the Illinois River was up 18% from the previous week.  We are

currently 13% above the 10-yr average along the Mississippi (252,295 ducks); however,
the Illinois (302,780 ducks) is running 12% below normal.  Hunting reports from last
weekend indicated success rates had tailed off at many clubs and managed waterfowl
areas along both rivers.  We can only hope the cooler temperatures over the 2nd weekend
in November will bring some new birds.  For more information on the waterfowl surveys
check out our web page at  


As I was thinking of a blog topic for the week, my mind went to Pintails, Pintails, and Pintails.Northern Pintail numbers have been high for several weeks now.  NOPI’s, as they are
referred to on the aerial inventory data sheet, were 57–94% above average, and
this week’s estimates ranked 9th all-time for the Illinois River and 11th all-time along
the Mississippi River since surveys began in 1948.  If you haven’t had the opportunity
to harvest that prized drake Pintail this year, you better hurry up.  I expect Pintail numbers
to start falling in the next week or two as the weather turns cooler.  


The Northern Pintail is one of the easier ducks to identify from the airplane.  Flocks of Pintails

tend to orient themselves in a common direction as the airplane approaches.  This behavio

makes the white chest of a Pintail very visible from the air.  My pilot and I refer to them as

“headlights” because the white reminds us of a bunch of car lights in the middle of the night.  

Be safe and happy hunting!  Stay tuned for more updates next week…….  


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