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Have you experienced the excitement of harvesting a banded game bird? Report your band recovery. Photo courtesy of Taylor Finger

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Contact information
For information on waterfowl surveys, contact:
Jeff Williams
Assistant migratory game bird ecologist
Bureau of Wildlife Management

Wisconsin waterfowl surveys

Plane flying over the Mississippi river

Photo taken by Melanie Guziec, WDNR.

Spring waterfowl survey

Spring survey overview


Decisions regarding hunting season structure and harvest limits in waterfowl management have a long history of being based in part upon spring breeding pair surveys. The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey has been conducted for 63 years across the traditional survey area of north-central United States, Canada and Alaska. The Wisconsin Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey, which is modeled after the continental survey, has been conducted for 45 years and provides a long-term measure of waterfowl breeding trends in Wisconsin. These data are used at the national and state level for monitoring waterfowl populations and making management decisions.

Spring survey results

USFWS spring survey results

Mississippi River Fall survey


These numbers do not reflect the actual population of waterfowl represented on the individual pools that were surveyed. This data represents only a sample of the population, determined by flying individual transects. The purpose of sampling utilizing transects is to gauge a subset of the population, then model to extrapolate the population by species.

2019 Surveys

Green Bay

Green Bay Fall survey

2019 Surveys

  • October 2019[PDF]
  • November 2019[PDF]
  • December 2019[PDF]
  • 2018 Surveys

    2017 Surveys

    Survey methodology

    Transects were flown 60 m above ground at approximately 90 knots parallel to the east and west shores with a nearshore and offshore transect line. All waterfowl were counted and recorded to species to the best of the observer’s abilities.

    Green Bay biologist contact information

    Josh Martinez
    Green Bay wildlife biologist
    Bureau of Wildlife Management

    Notes from the field

    Region map

    Northwest Wisconsin

    Northeast Wisconsin

    Southwest Wisconsin

    Southeast Wisconsin

    Provide your own observations

    Waterfowl hunters

    This is a survey designed for hunters to provide information on their hunting experience throughout the waterfowl hunting seasons in Wisconsin. Information gathered from this survey will help the department improve its abilities to actively manage waterfowl populations and improve the hunting experience for waterfowl hunters. Hunters can directly provide feedback to the department to help inform future hunting season structures and recommendations by submitting their thoughts.

    You may take this survey as many times as you want throughout the season.

    Common goldeneye

    Mid-winter waterfowl survey

    Mid-winter survey overview

    The Mid-winter Waterfowl Survey is a nationwide effort to survey waterfowl in areas of major concentration on their wintering grounds and provide winter distribution and habitat affiliations. This survey also serves as a primary source of data on population trends for some species that breed in remote Arctic locations and are difficult to survey using traditional methods. Therefore abundance indices for some of these species are obtained from surveys on wintering areas. For species not covered in other population surveys these indices provide direct inputs into management programs such as harvest management plans.

    Mid-winter survey results

    2019 Survey
    2018 Survey
    Historical data

    Waterfowl hunter survey

    This report presents results of a statewide survey of Wisconsin resident waterfowl hunters and conservation patron license holders regarding their waterfowl hunting behaviors and opinions regarding various aspects of waterfowl hunting and regulations in Wisconsin. The study was conducted to support the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s waterfowl management program. This report presents study findings, interprets the information within pertinent contexts, and may identify potentially useful lines of inquiry. This report does not, however, include specific recommendations or policy prescriptions.

    Waterfowl hunters
    2017 Wisconsin hunter survey results
    2015 Wisconsin hunter survey results
    2013 Wisconsin hunter survey results

    Volunteer with waterfowl banding

    About banding


    Every year DNR staff bands 8,000-12,000 migratory game birds. Information gathered from the bird can then be used in developing models that utilize banding and recovery data to predict the impacts of harvest and other take, as well as develop an understanding of environmental factors that drive migratory bird populations. Data collected from each bird can be used to estimate age-, sex-, and species-specific survival probability, harvest rate, derivation of harvest, recovery rate, and band reporting rate for each species. The first step to this process is catching, collecting data and banding these birds, thats where volunteers can help.


    Do you want to help waterfowl band?

    Most banding stations look for volunteers every year who can lend a hand for an hour or two. Banding begins in late July and runs through the last day in August in most areas. If you are interested in waterfowl banding please contact the assistant migratory game bird ecologist Jeff Williams or by phone at 608-261-6458 and they will put you in contact with a bander near you!

    Photo taken by Drew Rogowski, Volunteer.

    How many Canvasbacks do you think are in this photo?


    Photo taken by: WDNR staff

    Can you identify the predominant waterfowl in this photo?

    Ring-necked ducks

    Photo taken by: WDNR staff

    Last revised: Tuesday January 07 2020