Date: 3/12/23 3:19 am
From: jerry stanley <bhnsjerry...>
Subject: Fw: [PABIRDS] waterfowl question
From: Robert Mulvihill <robert.mulvihill...>
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2023 9:12 AM
To: jerry stanley <bhnsjerry...>
Subject: Re: [PABIRDS] waterfowl question

Hi Jerry,

I have always led my waterfowl outings in the morning, albeit not at first light. I like to plan my route and stops so that the sun is over our shoulder, giving good light to our subjects. I agree with you concerning the volume of migration in spring versus fall--indeed, I lead three spring waterfowl tours for every one fall tour. I suspect that the reason we see bigger concentrations of ducks in spring migration has to do with their urgency getting back to the breeding grounds. Basically, they get more bunched up in their rush north. Also, in fall they have lakes freezing behind them as they go (keeping them moving right along), but in spring the opposite is true.

That'll be a penny, Jerry, which is a very good deal, because I gave you my two cents! ;)


Robert S. Mulvihill
Department of Conservation and Field Research
National Aviary
700 Arch Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
412-522-5729 (cell)
The National Aviary<> works to inspire respect for nature
through an appreciation of birds.

"It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."
--sign over the work table of a carpenter named Jeno, who was a master cabinet maker at Boswell Lumber in Somerset Co., PA in the 1970s, and who unfailingly dropped whatever he was doing to help a young boy turn rough drawings of his latest idea for a custom bird feeder or nest box into well-fitting pieces that could be assembled into the real thing!

On Fri, Mar 10, 2023 at 5:21 AM jerry stanley <bhnsjerry...><mailto:<bhnsjerry...>> wrote:
A birding friend asked "What's the best time of day to see the most waterfowl?" I don't know the answer to that. I usually get to Kahle Lake about 10 AM for reasons unrelated to birding. I have a sense that morning is better but I don't feel strongly about this. When there's a lot of boating activity, the chance of boats driving off birds increases as the day goes on. Also, if conditions favor migration, birds will leave as the day goes on. Just a couple days ago, 40 Long-tailed ducks flew off as I arrived. Would 7, 8, or 9 AM be better? How about mid to late afternoon?

Here in Venango County, it seems that stormy weather that day or the night before, makes for better waterfowling. But just recently, a large number of birds have arrived and hung around for 3 days and I don't recall a weather event responsible for them dropping in. Northerly winds probably kept them here. So, in March and April, I think it's good to check whenever you can and whatever time it is.

One last question in my mind. Why do I find MANY, MANY more waterfowl in spring compared to fall, even though there are fewer birds alive by spring?

I am interested in hearing other people's thoughts.

Jerry Stanley
Join us on Facebook!