Discover Nature: Dabbling Duck Migration Peaks

Oct 23, 2017

As warm days grow farther apart, waves of colder air sweep across the state, bringing wind and rain that chill the blaze of autumn leaves.

Watch for peak numbers of dabbling ducks such as these northern pintails, as they migrate south through Missouri this week. Our state and federal hunting regulations, National Wildlife Refuge System, and programs like the federal duck stamp help ensure healthy waterfowl populations.
Credit Missouri Department of Conservation

Dabbling ducks, like American wigeon, pintail, green-winged teal, and gadwall ride these cold fronts to carry them south along their migratory routes.

This week on discover nature, watch for these ducks traveling through Missouri.

Named for their feeding behavior, dabbling ducks forage in shallow water for seeds, vegetation, and invertebrates.

They rarely dive underwater.  Instead, they duck their heads under the surface and “tip-up” with their tails pointed skyward – sifting mud through their bills to strain out small aquatic insects and other invertebrates.

Migratory waterfowl play important ecological roles in both breeding and overwintering territories. They also influence the ecology of every region they migrate through in spring and fall.

They help control populations of the plants and small aquatic animals they eat, and they provide food to a variety of predators.

Preserving the wetlands they require is important for maintaining their healthy populations.

Learn more about Missouri’s migratory waterfowl and variety of dabbling ducks with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide, and read reports & prospects for waterfowl hunting in Missouri.  Missouri has several wetland areas managed for public waterfowl hunting. 

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.