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Ducks, geese showing up in greater numbers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia wildlife officials say ducks and geese have showed up in better-than-normal numbers this winter.

The Division of Natural Resources' annual midwinter waterfowl survey, conducted Jan. 7, 8 and 10, turned up a total of 11,514 ducks and geese, the highest total in the past five years.

Agency biologists make the survey by flying over several of the state's large rivers and lakes, counting and identifying the birds as they go. Steve Wilson, the DNR's waterfowl project leader, said this year's total represented a 73 percent increase from last year and a 44 percent increase over the 10-year average.

The tally included 5,252 ducks and 6,262 Canada geese. Wilson said most of the ducks were mallards and black ducks, but several other species showed up as well - canvasbacks, scaup, ring-necked ducks, redheads, buffleheads, wood ducks, gadwalls and mergansers.

A few tundra swans showed up in the count, as did nine adult and five juvenile bald eagles.

Most of the waterfowl showed up along the Ohio River, which Wilson said was to be expected because cold weather tends to push birds southward from Lake Erie toward the next large body of water they encounter - and the Ohio is usually the largest expanse of open water they find.

The Lower Kanawha River also was a popular gathering spot, as were the New River and Bluestone Lake.

Reach John McCoy at johnmccoy@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.


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