The Central Flyway receives most of its waterfowl from the prairies, with the majority of ducks coming from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Most of this flyway's geese, as well as most of its scaup, wigeon, and green-winged teal, are raised in the western boreal forest and Arctic. In the north-central United States, runoff from a heavy snowpack and frequent spring rains also created excellent wetland conditions. A record 15.7 million breeding ducks were surveyed on the U.S. prairies—more than one-third of the total in the traditional survey area.
Saskatchewan consistently ranks at the top of North America's most important waterfowl breeding areas. In 2011, an estimated 10.7 million breeding ducks were surveyed across this province's vast prairie and parkland regions—a 56 percent increase from the previous year's estimate. Pintails posted the most impressive increase (+233 percent), followed by shovelers (+88 percent), blue-winged teal (+83 percent), canvasbacks (+74 percent), wigeon (+46 percent), scaup (+41 percent), redheads (+38 percent), and mallards (+23 percent). In fact, southern Saskatchewan alone supported roughly one-fifth of the mallards; one-quarter of the pintails and blue-winged teal; one-third of the gadwalls, redheads, and shovelers; and half of the canvasbacks in the entire traditional survey area.
With record numbers of ducks forecasted to migrate through the Central Flyway, our expectations were high and we have not been disappointed. With only a few more weeks remaining in duck season, we have not missed many opportunities. The geese have been a bit scarce, but I cannot recall ever being bombarded by so many mallards.