The first day of winter is soon approaching! We’ve already said our goodbyes to our migrating duck friends here at the Tantramar Wetlands Centre. Some are long gone, wishing to avoid the cold, while others lagged behind to fill up on as much available food as they could find. When the marsh freezes over they no longer have access to this food and move on. Some ducks, such as the American Black Duck, may hang around the area but move to the coast line to find open water. Perhaps you’ll see them along the coast of Nova Scotia this winter! Others have a little farther to travel. Here is some interesting insight into where our Tantramar Marsh ducks may spend their winters:
Blue-winged Teal- These small dabblers are not a fan of cold weather and are likely the first to leave. Our Atlantic Blue-winged teals have been found along the coast of Florida to its southern most tip as well as other stops along the Gulf Coast. They will also spend their winters in the Caribbean and South America. Blue-winged Teals travel the farthest south out of all North American waterfowl species. We were fortunate to observe three broods of Blue-winged Teal in our marsh this summer.
American Wigeon – These ducks will winter along the coast from Cape Cod South to North Carolina. Some will migrate a little farther and have been found in South Carolina and Florida. A brood of seven American Wigeon ducklings called the Tantramar Wetlands their home this year.
Gadwall- We had at least one pair of Gadwall nest in the Tantramar marsh this spring. These ducks may be wintering all along the Eastern Seaboard down to the North Carolina and South Carolina boarder. They also like to spend their winters along the Gulf Coast.
Ring-necked Duck- Our local diving duck seems to favor Florida in the winter. They’re known to travel farther inland than most of the other species of ducks mentioned. This spring and summer we had seven broods hatch in our marsh.
Mallard- Our green headed friends may only need to travel as far as New Jersey to find wintering grounds. They can, however, be found along the Atlantic coast anywhere in the upper half of the United States. Five pair of Mallards were nesting in our marsh this spring.
Wherever our Tantramar Marsh ducks are this winter we’ll be patiently awaiting their return. In the mean time we are gearing up for our winter program here at the Tantramar Wetlands Centre. We are looking forward to donning our snowshoes and heading out on the marsh to look for signs of life. We know that even in the winter wetlands are alive!