How Many Ducks Actually Use The Platte River?

Ducks Unlimited surveys river to document waterfowl use.

Mallards take off from a wetland along the Platte River.
Mallards take off from a wetland along the Platte River.
Ducks Unlimited
Ducks Unlimited

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. –-( Waterfowl hunting along the Platte River is a long and storied tradition, with some of the largest winter mallard harvests occurring on the Platte each year.

Through midwinter counts, we now know that thousands of birds visit the river for short periods before continuing their journey south in the fall. Along the North Platte, certain areas over-winter mallards and geese that will not travel any farther south.

When spring arrives and these birds begin their journey north to the prairie breeding grounds, they must be in top condition to ensure nest success. With Nebraska being one of the last stops before the Dakotas and Canada, it is critical to understand where, what type and how much habitat the state needs to ensure strong waterfowl populations.

To better understand these relationships and how to improve conservation delivery on the Platte, Ducks Unlimited was recently awarded a Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative grant to conduct aerial surveys of the North Platte River from the city of North Platte west to the Wyoming state line. Beginning in February 2014, ducks will be counted and their locations documented once each week through the spring migration.

“DU is excited about the opportunity to advance our scientific research on the river to improve on-the-ground conservation and better understand what the ducks need to increase their chances of success on the breeding grounds,” said Jonas Davis, DU manager of conservation programs for Nebraska.

The data will be incorporated into a geographic information system model with multiple habitat features included. The model will then help DU biologists and other conservation partners working on the river better prioritize where project delivery will be of the greatest benefit to ducks from a continental perspective.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit Connect with us on our Facebook page at, follow our tweets at and watch DU videos at

The post How Many Ducks Actually Use The Platte River? appeared first on