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Birds of the St. Croix River Valley: Minnesota and Wisconsin

FAMILY ANATIDAE

Swans, Geese, and Ducks


Whistling Swan -- Canada Goose -- Brant -- White-fronted Goose -- Snow Goose -- Mallard -- Black Duck -- Gadwall -- Pintail -- Green-winged Teal -- Blue-winged Teal -- Cinnamon Teal -- American Wigeon -- Northern Shoveler -- Wood Duck -- Redhead -- Ring-necked Duck -- Canvasback -- Greater Scaup -- Lesser Scaup -- Common Goldeneye -- Barrow's Goldeneye -- Bufflehead -- Oldsquaw -- Common Eider -- White-winged Scoter -- Surf Scoter -- Black Scoter -- Ruddy Duck -- Hooded Merganser -- Common Merganser -- Red-breasted Merganser

Whistling Swan (Olor columbianus)

Status: Regular migrant, two summer records.

Migration: Common to locally abundant spring migrant in the Western Upland, fairly common in the Central Plain and uncommon in the Northern Highland. Spring migrants arrive about 25 March in the Western Upland and by 15 April in the Northern Highland. Peak spring migration occurs 10-25 April. During this period, flocks of 300 to 400 birds are frequently observed, primarily on the prairie wetlands of St. Croix and Washington counties. Roberts (1932) cited the passage of about 2,000 whistling swans through the Valley during "the spring of 1923." Departure is very rapid; most birds are gone by 10 May (latest-13 May 1975, Burnett County).

Fall migration begins with the arrival of the first birds in the Northern Highland about 5 October. Small groups of swans slowly move into the region during most of October. Peak fall migration occurs 25 October to 15 November. Currently, peak concentrations range from 100 to 300 individuals. Roberts (1932) described the observation of "several mixed flocks of swans and geese, one numbering 1,200 to 1,500 birds" at Stillwater. Dates of peak numbers vary considerably and are dependent upon the advancement of northern cold fronts. Departure from the region usually occurs by 1 December and is dependent upon the amount of ice formed on area waters.

Summer: A lone whistling swan was observed at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, on 26 June 1957 (Lound and Lound 1957d). A single bird remained in St. Croix County during the 1979 summer (Tessen 1979b). Both birds were probably injured.

Habitat: Migrant whistling swans utilize a variety of wetland types during migration. In spring, whistling swans are usually found feeding in numerous temporarily flooded wetlands which are fertile. Larger semipermanently and permanently flooded wetlands are used in spring, primarily as roosting sites. During fall migration swans utilize the larger permanently flooded wetlands and open riverine habitats.


Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

Status: Regular migrant and nesting species, casual winter resident.

Migration: Common to locally abundant migrant throughout the region, especially numerous along the St. Croix River and in central St. Croix, Washington, and southern Burnett counties. Arrival of the first spring migrants in the Western Upland occurs 20-25 February and they have reached the Northern Highland (Burnett County) by 10 March. Peak spring migration occurs 25 March to 20 April. Largest numbers of migrants usually occur at the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Burnett County.

Fall migration begins about 1 September with the formation of loose flocks among local breeding birds. A gradual influx of migrants adds to the population, and peak fall migration occurs 15 October to 5 November. The largest concentration on record is 8,000 at Crex Meadows on 31 October 1970. The fall population rapidly declines after the peak and most birds have departed by 10 December.

Nesting Season Distribution: Currently a fairly common nesting species throughout the region, common at Crex Meadows. The success of the Canada goose as a nesting bird is related to the reestablishment of breeding adult giant Canada geese (B. c. maxima) at Afton, Washington County, and at Crex Meadows. A captive flock was established at Crex Meadows in 1957, and the first young were produced in the wild in 1960. This flock steadily increased and now over 100 pairs produce 300 young annually (WDNR files).

The Afton flock was established in 1960 and resulted in movement of breeding birds into nearby wetlands of Washington, Polk, and St. Croix counties. Canada geese were first recorded summering in St. Croix county in 1961 and nesting was recorded in 1963. Establishment of free-flying flocks of Canada geese was very popular in east central Minnesota and western Wisconsin throughout the 1960's and early 1970's. Many of these releases were successful and now several hundred breeding pairs return to the Valley each spring.

Winter: Casual winter resident in the Western Upland, primarily associated with the St. Croix River. Nearby agricultural fields are typically used for feeding during winter.

Habitat: Canada geese are usually found nesting on semipermanently and permanently flooded wetlands in the Western Upland. Many goose nests are found on old muskrat houses in these wetlands. At Crex Meadows, nesting Canada geese typically use large man-made impoundments.


Brant (Branta bernicla)

Status: Accidental, three fall records.

Records: A flock of three birds clearly identifiable to this species was observed at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, on 2 October 1954 (N. R. Stone). A group of 10 brant was observed at Crex Meadows on 6 October 1974 (K. H. Dueholm). N. R. Stone observed a brant referable to the Pacific subspecies (B. bernicla nigricans) on 31 October 1959 at Crex Meadows. The bird was observed from 120 m; the neck markings were present and the black underwing coverts were noted, distinguishing this bird from the eastern race.


White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)

Status: Regular migrant.

Migration: Rare spring migrant, with records from Burnett, St. Croix, and Washington counties. Arrival dates do not demonstrate any pattern, ranging from 3 April 1968 and 8 April 1971 in Burnett County and 26 March 1976 in St. Croix County, to 12 April 1971 in Washington County. Most records occur during 5-20 May; the latest record was 2 June 1961 at Crex Meadows, Burnett County.

Rare fall migrant with records only from Burnett and St. Croix counties. Fall dates range from 16 September to 10 November 1964 (Crex Meadows). Most records are from 5-20 October. White-fronted geese are usually observed in fall in flocks of three to six. The largest flock recorded (12) was observed in St. Croix County on 28 March 1978.

Habitat: Spring migrants are usually observed on temporarily or semipermanently flooded wetlands. During fall migration most observations consist of birds in feeding flocks with other geese in corn or oat stubble fields.


Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)

Status: Regular migrant, accidental in summer and winter.

Migration: Rare spring and fairly common fall migrant throughout the Valley; locally common at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, during fall migration. Spring migration begins with the arrival of small scattered flocks 5-15 April (earliest-16 March 1966, Washington County). No large populations occur during spring migration and most birds depart by 15 May (latest-3 June 1977, St. Croix County). Fall migrants arrive about 20 September (earliest-13 September 1974, Burnett County). Peak fall populations usually consist of groups totaling 200 to 300 individuals per county. Occasionally, exceptionally large concentrations occur at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, including 11,650 on 2 November 1971 (WDNR files). Normal peak fall populations occur 15 October to 1 November and departure by 20 November.

Summer: N. R. Stone recorded a blue phase snow goose in molt in Black Brook Township, Polk County, on 20 June 1951. Another blue phase goose was recorded at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, on 7 July 1953.

Winter: P. D. Tweet observed a flock of six in Troy Township, St. Croix County, on 1 January 1977. These birds were probably late migrants.

Habitat: Primary habitat use of migrant snow geese consists of temporarily or semipermanently flooded wetlands. Adjacent agricultural fields, both row crops and hay, are heavily used for feeding.


Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Status: Regular migrant, nesting species, and winter resident.

Migration: Common to locally abundant spring migrant in the Western Upland and Central Plain, fairly common to locally abundant in the Northern Highland. Determination of spring arrival dates is compounded by the presence of wintering birds. Movements of birds into the region are observed in late February with increases along the St. Croix River. Birds gradually move north arriving in the Northern Highland about 15 March. Peak spring populations occur 5-15 April; 6,000 to 8,000 birds are commonly observed in St. Croix County. Movement of nonbreeding mallards is rapid after peak periods; departure is by 1 May.

Fall migration begins 1-10 September with formation of local feeding flocks of adults and juveniles. Movements of migrants into the region begins about 20 September; peak populations occur 20 October to 1 November. Concentrations at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, have surpassed 11,000 twice (11,500 on 30 October 1967 and 15,000 on 3 November 1964). Recently, use of two refuges in St. Croix County has resulted in large numbers of mallards exceeding 10,000 (largest, 13,500 on 20 October 1977). Movement from the region is dependent on weather conditions. Departure of the largest number of birds occurs by 20 November and those not wintering have departed by 15 December.

Nesting Season Distribution: Common breeding duck throughout the region; nesting has been reported from all counties. Most research has centered on breeding populations in the pothole region of St. Croix and southern Polk counties, and at Crex Meadows. In the former area, Peterson (1978) estimated a breeding population of mallards of nearly 1.4 pairs per km2. At Crex Meadows, the estimated number of mallard breeding pairs on waterfowl survey transects ranged from 7 in 1973 to 55 in 1977 (WDNR files).

Winter: Common wintering duck wherever open water is available. Large early winter flocks are usually associated with open water areas along the St. Croix River. Cooper and Johnson (1977) reported that 75 to 200 mallards wintered near Afton, Washington County, from 1974 to 1977. Substantial wintering populations are also known to occur along the Kinnickinnic River in Pierce County and southern St. Croix County.

Habitat: Nesting mallards occupy a variety of wetland classes ranging from sedge meadows and acidic bogs to permanently flooded wetlands. Nesting pairs also use lowland forest habitat along rivers and streams, man-made impoundments, and stock-watering ponds created by the Soil Conservation Service. With the almost complete destruction of native grassland habitat, these ducks now commonly nest in haylands and oat and corn fields. Several thousand acres of Managed Grasslands have been established by government agencies to provide dense waterfowl nesting cover.


Black Duck (Anas rubripes)

Status: Regular migrant, nesting species, and winter resident.

Migration: Uncommon spring migrant in all regions; fairly common in the fall in the Northern Highland and locally at the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Burnett County. Spring migrants arrive along the St. Croix River about 15 March, generally moving to natural basin wetlands 1-10 April. No peak spring concentrations of black ducks have been noted, although they are most frequently observed 10-25 April. Departure from nonbreeding areas usually occurs by 15 May. Stragglers have been noted during late May and throughout the summer, primarily in the Western Upland.

Fall migrants arrive in the Western Upland 5-10 September. Peak fall populations occur 20 October to 10 November. Largest concentrations have been noted at the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Burnett County; 1,000 individuals were recorded 14 November 1964, 7 November 1965, and 28 October 1966. In the Western Upland, greatest numbers occur in central St. Croix County and along the St. Croix River and backwaters 25 October to 5 November. During fall migration, black ducks are usually observed in close association with flocks of mallards. Departure during fall occurs 15 November to 1 December, depending on weather conditions.

Nesting Season Distribution: Locally occurring nesting duck, primarily in the Northern Highland. Green and Janssen (1975) have mapped the breeding distribution of this duck in Minnesota and indicated it as a regular nesting bird in northern Pine County. There are two Washington County nest records: 24 May 1971, a female with 10 young was observed near Hugo, Minnesota, and nesting was reported during the summer of 1978 (Green 1979). Pair counts at Crex Meadows from 1957 to 1976 revealed an average of 1.1 pairs per year; broods were observed in 1957 and 1971 (WDNR files). Jackson (1941) observed one black duck near Solon Springs, Douglas County, on 8 August 1919. In St. Croix County, one pair was observed near New Richmond on 28 June 1975. They may have been nonbreeding birds or late migrants.

Winter: Fairly common winter resident wherever there is open water. Recorded primarily along the lower St. Croix River (Hudson-Stillwater) and below the dam at Taylors Falls. One midwinter record for Crex Meadows, Burnett County, 12 January 1955.

Habitat: The black duck is primarily a species of northern forested wetlands. Typical habitat consists of 0.5 ha or larger permanently flooded wetlands that are slightly acidic. Pairs and broods have also been noted on acid bog wetlands and beaver ponds.


Gadwall (Anas strepera)

Status: Regular migrant and nesting species, casual winter resident.

Migration: Uncommon migrant in the Western Upland and Central Plain; uncommon to rare in the Northern Highland except at Crex Meadows. Spring migrants arrive 25 March to 5 April in the Western Upland, reaching the Northern Highland 10-15 April (earliest-31 March 1958, Burnett County). Peak spring migration occurs 15-25 April and departure of nonbreeders occurs 5-15 May.

Fall migrants arrive 20-30 September reaching peak numbers 10-15 October. The largest concentration recorded at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, was 400 on 3 October 1970, and the largest number on the St. Croix County wetlands was 150 on 10 October 1975. Departure of fall migrants occurs after mid-October and most birds have left by 10 November.

Nesting Season Distribution: Rare and local nesting species with confirmed brood records from St. Croix, Polk, and Burnett counties. Gadwalls were released at the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Burnett County, during 1970 in an attempt to establish this prairie duck on seeded native prairie grasslands. This release met with limited success because the first brood was not observed until 1974. In the prairie wetlands of southern Polk and central St. Croix counties, gadwalls occur as a rare nesting species in a narrow band between Roberts (St. Croix County) and Alden Township (Polk County).

Winter: One bird was recorded on the Afton CBC in St. Croix County on 1 January 1973.

Habitat: Nesting gadwalls at Crex Meadows are generally associated with man-made potholes constructed to resemble natural basin wetlands. In St. Croix and southern Polk counties, breeding pairs are typically associated with seasonally and semipermanently flooded wetlands. Vegetation of these wetlands is composed of cattail, bulrushes, and various other emergent species.


Pintail (Anas acuta)

Status: Regular migrant and nesting species, one winter record.

Migration: Fairly common spring migrant in the Western Upland and Central Plain, uncommon and local in the Northern Highland. Pintails are among the first dabbling ducks to arrive in the region, usually 5-15 March. Peak spring populations occur 10-20 April, and depart by 15 May. Goddard (1975) found that pintails made up 0.9% of the spring migrant waterfowl in St. Croix County and 2.8% of the migrant dabbling duck population.

Fall migrants arrive in late August. During the fall, pintails are fairly common at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, in central St. Croix, and eastern Washington counties, and in southern Polk County. They are rare and local in other regions during this period. Peak fall populations occur 25 September to 10 October and departure occurs by 15 November. Largest fall populations at Crex Meadows have been 400 birds reported on 4 October 1956, 29 September 1964, and 27 September 1973.

Nesting Season Distribution: Uncommon and local nesting species with records from Washington (Green and Janssen 1975), St. Croix, Polk, and Burnett counties. In central St. Croix and southern Polk counties, pintails made up 0.8% of the breeding duck population (Peterson 1978). At Crex Meadows, waterfowl pair counts indicated that pintails constituted about 1% of the yearly breeding population from 1957-78 (WDNR files).

Winter: One pintail was observed on the St. Croix River, Burnett County, on 12 and 13 January 1949 (Robbins 1949). Afton CBC data include single pintails on 1 January 1972 and 1973, and two birds on 1 January 1974, 1976, and 1978.

Habitat: Nesting pintails are typically associated with seasonally and semipermanently flooded wetlands that support a lush growth of emergent aquatic vegetation.


Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)

Status: Regular migrant and nesting species, two winter records.

Migration: Fairly common migrant in all regions, locally common during spring in the Western Upland. Spring migrants begin to arrive in the Western Upland 25 March to 1 April (earliest-15 March, St. Croix County). Arrival in the Northern Highland occurs 5-10 April. Peak spring populations occur 15-25 April and departure of nonbreeding birds occurs by 15 May. In St. Croix County, Goddard (1975) found that green-winged teal made up 4.6% of the spring waterfowl population and 13.6% of the dabbling ducks.

Fall migration begins about 25 August with a slow increase of numbers in the Central Plain and Northern Highland. Peak populations occur 1-15 October in the Northern Highland. The largest population recorded at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, was 600 birds on 2 October 1971. Peak fall populations in the Western Upland occur 10-25 October. Although departure is fairly slow, most green-winged teal have departed by 15 November.

Nesting Season Distribution: Uncommon to rare nesting species throughout the Valley. Most observations of birds during this period are made in the prairie wetland region of St. Croix, Polk, and Washington counties, and at Crex Meadows. Green-winged teal are the fourth most common breeding duck at Crex Meadows (WDNR files). In St. Croix and Polk counties, green-winged teal constitute about 0.4% of the breeding waterfowl population.

Winter: One bird was observed on the Afton CBC on 1 January 1972. N. R. Stone observed three birds at Clam Lake, Burnett County, on 13 February 1950 (Robbins 1950a).

Habitat: Pairs and broods are associated with seasonally and semipermanently flooded wetlands. Of seven green-winged teal nests that I located in St. Croix County in 1976, all were in alfalfa fields.


Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)

Status: Regular migrant and nesting species.

Migration: Abundant migrant in the Western Upland, common in the Central Plain, and fairly common (locally common) in the Northern Highland. Goddard (1975) found that blue-winged teal made up 14.4% of all waterfowl and 43% of all dabbling ducks using St. Croix County wetlands in spring.

Blue-winged teal are among the last migrant ducks to arrive in spring; average arrival date is 5 April (earliest-23 March 1976, St. Croix County). Populations build rapidly and peak numbers are usually noted 20 April to 10 May. The first migrants usually arrive in the Northern Highlands about 20 April and reach peak populations 5-15 May.

Fall migrants begin to form large feeding aggregations in late July and early August. Peak fall populations occur early; the largest number (1,200) observed at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, was on 17 September 1976. Typically, large numbers of blue-winged teal are observed 10-25 September in St. Croix and Washington counties (1,000 on 23 September 1975). Departure from the region is very rapid after peak populations occur, and most birds are gone by 20 October (latest-2 December 1973, Washington County).

Nesting Season Distribution: Abundant nesting duck on prairie wetlands of St. Croix, Polk, and Washington counties. Preliminary data collected by the WDNR (Peterson 1978) show a breeding density of about 1.7 pairs per km2 in St. Croix and Polk counties. At Crex Meadows, blue-winged teal are the most abundant breeding duck, averaging nearly 42% of all breeding pairs observed from 1957-78 (WDNR files).

Habitat: Blue-winged teal use a wide variety of wetland types for nesting, ranging from sedge meadows to bog wetlands. Largest densities occur on seasonally, semipermanently, and permanently flooded wetlands containing an abundance of submerged and emergent aquatic vegetation. To a lesser extent, breeding pairs also use stock ponds and dugout ponds created by the Soil Conservation Service. Lowland Deciduous Forest habitat along streams and rivers is regularly used.


Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera)

Status: Casual spring and fall migrant.

Records: Cinnamon teal have been observed four times at Crex Meadows, Burnett County: 14 April 1953 (six birds); 25 April 1955 (two); 8 May 1956. Hunt and Jahn (1968) observed a male cinnamon teal at Crex Meadows on 21 April 1968. One bird was observed in Washington County on 16 April 1963 (Honetschlager 1963). Roberts (1932) cited the collection of a male cinnamon teal near Stacy, Chisago County, "sometime between October 5-15, 1923." A second male was obtained "at almost identically the same place" on 15 September 1924.


American Wigeon (Anas americana)

Status: Regular migrant and casual nesting species.

Migration: Fairly common migrant in the Western Upland; uncommon in the Central Plain and Northern Highland. Goddard (1975) found that American wigeon made up 2.2% of all waterfowl and 4.5% of the dabbling ducks using St. Croix County wetlands during spring migration.

Spring migrants arrive in the Western Upland 20-30 March; the earliest birds occur along the St. Croix River. Arrival is somewhat later at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, where the average arrival is 8 April. Movement into the Valley is very rapid and peak populations are usually observed 10-25 April. Departure from the Valley usually occurs 10-25 May.

Fall migrants arrive in late August and build up rapidly, reaching peak populations 25 September to 10 October. The largest number observed at Crex Meadows (400) occurred on 3 October 1970. In St. Croix County, fall peak populations of 200 to 300 birds are common and 720 were observed on 3 October 1976. Departure from the Valley occurs 1-10 November (latest-15 December 1974, Washington County).

Nesting Season Distribution: Nest records of American wigeon have been confirmed only at Crex Meadows: two broods (eight each) in July 1967 (first brood observed on 14 July); one brood observed in 1970 and 1971; one brood of four observed on 21 July 1975, and two broods during 1976. Elsewhere, summering pairs are regularly observed in St. Croix and Polk counties. The only evidence suggestive of nesting was a female acting "broody" on a pond 1.6 km northwest of New Richmond on 20 July 1977. Although summering pairs are regularly observed in Washington County near Lake Elmo, no evidence of nesting has been obtained.

Habitat: Breeding pairs at Crex Meadows are typically associated with large man-made impoundments. In St. Croix and Washington counties summering American wigeon pairs are associated with semipermanently flooded wetlands.


Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

Status: Regular migrant and nesting species.

Migration: Fairly common spring migrant in the Western Upland, uncommon to rare elsewhere. Rare throughout the Valley during fall migration. Goddard (1975) found that the northern shoveler made up 2.2% of the waterfowl population and 6.4% of the dabbling duck population in St. Croix County during spring migration.

Spring migrants arrive 1-5 April (earliest-24 March 1976, St. Croix County). Peak spring migration in the Western Upland occurs 20 April to 5 May and departure occurs 15-20 May. Elsewhere, arrival occurs 10-20 April (average 15 April at Crex Meadows). Peak spring populations occur about 10 May and departure by 20 May. Fall migrants begin to arrive 10-20 August. Peak fall populations cannot be determined because of the small number of birds usually observed. Departure from the Valley occurs by 15 November.

Nesting Season Distribution: Regular nesting species at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, where up to eight pairs per year have been recorded on breeding waterfowl survey transects (WDNR files). Elsewhere, northern shovelers are encountered irregularly during the breeding season in St. Croix, southern Polk, and Washington counties.

Habitat: Soft-bottomed semipermanently and permanently flooded wetlands supporting populations of macroinvertebrates are usually occupied during the nesting season. During spring migration, extensive use is made of temporarily flooded wetlands.


Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Status: Regular migrant and nesting species, casual in early winter.

Migration: Common migrant throughout the Valley. Spring migrants arrive in the Western Upland 15-20 March (earliest-6 March 1975, Pierce County). Spring migration progresses according to the opening of river systems and arrival in the Northern Highland occurs 1-10 April. Peak spring migration occurs 15-25 April in the Western Upland and 25 April to 5 May in the Northern Highland. Goddard (1975) reported that wood ducks constituted 0.4% of the total spring waterfowl population and 1.2% of the dabbling duck population on prairie wetlands in St. Croix County. This low percentage is undoubtedly related to their preference for riverine habitats.

Fall migration begins during mid-August with the formation of feeding groups. A gradual buildup in numbers occurs throughout September. Peak populations at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, usually occur 20 September to 5 October; the largest groups were noted on 4 October 1967 (1,500) and 14 September 1968 (1,000). Elsewhere, peak populations occur 1-20 October. Especially important riverine staging areas occur along the Kettle River (Pine County), Apple River (Polk and St. Croix counties), and Willow River (St. Croix County). Departure from the Valley occurs rapidly after mid-October; the latest dates were 20 November 1976 and 20 December 1956 (both Washington County).

Nesting Season Distribution: Uncommon to fairly common nesting species in all regions. Nesting records exist for all counties and nesting birds are numerous along the larger tributaries of the St. Croix River. In St. Croix County, the wood duck ranks third in abundance behind mallard and blue-winged teal as a breeding duck (B. A. Moss, personal communication).

Winter: Winter records include 1 January 1972 and 1973 (Afton CBC, Washington County); 27 December 1970 (Solon Springs CBC, Douglas County); and 20 January 1975 (McKenzie Creek, Polk County).

Habitat: Primary habitat use by nesting wood ducks includes wooded streams, rivers, backwater sloughs, and wooded lakes. In the Northern Highland, breeding pairs also use tamarack bogs and spruce-lined lakes. In the Western Upland, use of prairie wetlands has been enhanced by the placement of artificial nest boxes.


Redhead (Aythya americana)

Status: Regular migrant and casual nesting species.

Migration: Fairly common migrant in the Western Upland, particularly in western St. Croix and eastern Washington counties. Uncommon to rare elsewhere, especially in the Northern Highland. Spring migrants arrive in the Western Upland 5-10 April (earliest-23 March, St. Croix County). Peak abundance occurs 25 April to 5 May and most have departed by 25 May. Goddard (1975) found that redheads made up 2% of the total spring waterfowl population and 4.5% of the spring diving duck population in St. Croix County. At the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Burnett County, the average date of spring arrival is 15 April; peak populations occur 1-10 May, and departure by 1 June.

Fall migrants begin to arrive 10-20 September. Populations build slowly through October, reaching largest numbers 20 October to 1 November. The principal fall migration route used by redheads is south of the Valley. Because of this, concentrations larger than 50 birds are rarely encountered during fall migration. Departure from the region occurs rapidly after 15 November; occasional stragglers linger along open areas of the St. Croix River until 1 December.

Nesting Season Distribution: There are six breeding records for the Valley: a female with a brood of four on West Twin Lake, St. Croix County, 1968 (J. T. Lokemoen); a female with a brood of four on East Twin Lake, St. Croix County, 1975 (B. A. Moss); females with broods of five and six on the Gust Waterfowl Production Area, St. Croix County, 1976 and 1977 (C. A. Faanes); two broods of six and seven on Oakridge Lake during July 1976. Elsewhere, occasional summering pairs have been observed in central Washington and southern Polk counties, although no broods have been observed. At Crex Meadows, summering pairs are noted almost yearly, although the only suggestion of nesting was a female acting "broody" on 16 June 1975 (S. D. Robbins, personal communication).

Habitat: All redhead broods have been observed on large permanently flooded wetlands where the dominant emergent vegetation consists of cattail and river bulrush.


Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)

Status: Regular migrant and nesting species, casual in winter.

Migration: Abundant migrant throughout the Valley. Spring migrants arrive in the Western Upland about 15 March and the Northern Highland 1-5 April (earliest-20 March 1950, Burnett County). Peak populations of spring migrants occur 20 April to 1 May. Goddard (1975) found that ring-necked ducks were the second most abundant spring migrant duck in St. Croix County, making up 14.8% of the total waterfowl population and 32.8% of the diving duck population. Departure from nonbreeding areas occurs by 20 May.

Fall migrants begin to form flocks in the Northern Highland in mid-September and the first migrants reach the Western Upland about 25 September. Peak fall populations at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, usually occur 20-30 October and have included 5,000 (25 October 1967), 5,500 (25 October 1965), and 7,500 (26 October 1966). In the Western Upland, peak populations occur about 1 November and include up to 1,500 birds (B. A. Moss, personal communication). Departure from the Valley occurs steadily through November with stragglers occurring along the St. Croix River until 1 December.

Nesting Season Distribution: Uncommon nesting species in the Western Upland; fairly common in the Central Plain and Northern Highland, common at Crex Meadows. Breeding records have been obtained in all counties except Pierce and the breeding range includes the area north of Marine-on-St. Croix and New Richmond.

Breeding waterfowl surveys at Crex Meadows reveal that the ring-necked duck is the third most numerous nesting species (WDNR files). In St. Croix and southern Polk counties, Peterson (1978) found that ring-necked ducks constituted an insignificant percentage of the breeding population. However, most ring-necked duck breeding activity in St. Croix and Polk counties occurs west and north of Peterson's study area.

Winter: One male was observed on the Afton CBC 1 January 1975.

Habitat: Ring-necked ducks are primarily a species of permanently flooded wetlands in the forested areas of the Valley. Typical brood habitat consists of slightly acidic water and scattered growths of pond lily, bulrush, and cattail. Beaver ponds are commonly used in the northern counties and acid bogs are occasionally used.


Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)

Status: Regular migrant and casual summer resident, one nesting record and one winter record.

Migration: Uncommon spring and fall migrant in the Western Upland and Central Plain, rare in the Northern Highland. Spring migrants arrive in late March (earliest-16 March). Peak abundance occurs 10-25 April and departure occurs 10-20 May. Goddard (1975) found that the canvasback made up 0.4% of the total spring waterfowl population and 1.0% of the diving duck population in St. Croix County. Fall migration begins in mid-September with arrival of small flocks on the larger lakes and the St. Croix River. Peak fall populations occur 15 October to 1 November and departure by 30 November.

Nesting Season Distribution: Casual summer resident in St. Croix County and at Crex Meadows, Burnett County. The only nesting record is my observation of a hen with a brood of eight on Oakridge Lake, St. Croix County, on 8 July 1976. Summering pairs are occasionally observed on other prairie wetlands although no evidence of nesting is available. Elsewhere, summering pairs were observed at Crex Meadows in 1950, 1962,1975, and 1978.

Winter: A male canvasback was observed on the Afton CBC, Washington County, on 1 January 1975.

Habitat: The nesting record was obtained on a large permanently flooded wetland. Dominant vegetation included softstem bulrush, cattail, and river bulrush. Most additional summer records are the birds on semi-open permanent wetlands. During migration, canvasbacks utilize most wetland types, although a preference is shown for semipermanently and permanently flooded wetlands.


Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)

Status: Regular migrant.

Migration: Rare migrant throughout the Valley. Spring migrants arrive 5-15 April and are most regularly observed 25 April to 5 May. First migrants are usually observed on the St. Croix River, followed by an increase of observations away from the river. Departure from the Valley occurs by 15 May (latest-29 May 1968, Burnett County). Goddard (1975) failed to record the greater scaup during four spring field seasons in St. Croix County.

Fall migrants occur 5 October to 20 November; most records are 20 October to 5 November. Fall migrants are usually observed intermixed with large rafts of lesser scaup, whereas in spring migration, greater scaup seem to be more segregated from lesser scaup.

Habitat: Large, open permanently flooded wetlands typically support the most greater scaup in this region. Cedar Lake on the Polk-St. Croix County line is probably the most productive lake in the region for observing greater scaup.


Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)

Status: Regular migrant, casual nesting species, and occasional in early winter.

Migration: Abundant migrant throughout the Valley. The lesser scaup is the most numerous migrant duck in the Valley. In St. Croix County, Goddard (1975) found that lesser scaup made up 24.6% of the total spring waterfowl population and 54.6% of the diving duck population. Spring migrants arrive in the Western Upland 10-15 March (earliest-6 March 1976, Washington County) and the Northern Highland 1-10 April. Peak spring populations occur 20 April to 10 May when flocks of 700 to 1,000 individuals are typically observed on larger lakes. Departure occurs 20-30 May.

Fall migrants arrive 20 September to 1 October. Fall migration is characterized by a rather low increase in numbers until about 20 October when large influxes occur. Peak fall populations at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Burnett County, occur 25 October to 5 November and have totaled up to 7,000 individuals (30 October 1965). In the Western Upland, peak fall populations larger than 3,000 individuals are observed 25 October to 5 November. Departure from the Valley is dependent on ice conditions on larger lakes; most birds depart by 1 December.

Nesting Season Distribution: Regular summer resident on wetlands in Polk, St. Croix, and central Washington counties. Usually up to 10 pairs can be found on wetlands near New Richmond, St. Croix County. There are two brood records for the Valley; both broods were found on 7 July 1976, on wetlands in Alden Township, Polk County. These broods were within 0.8 km of each other and constituted the eighth and ninth, 20th century breeding records for Wisconsin. At Crex Meadows, 10 pairs were observed during 1958. Since then at least one pair has been present yearly; however, no broods have been observed. Jackson (1942) reported the collection of a male lesser scaup on Upper St. Croix Lake, Douglas County, on 1 August 1919.

Winter: Occasional early winter visitor primarily on open stretches of rivers. These birds are probably late fall migrants rather than wintering birds because no midwinter records exist. Dates range from 22 December 1956 to 1 January 1973, 1975, 1976 (Afton CBC); 29 December 1973 to 3 January 1976 (Suburban St. Paul CBC); 12-13 January 1949, 12 January 1955, 9 January 1956, and 7 January 1957 (Crex Meadows); 31 January 1949, St. Croix Falls (Polk County); and 23 December 1975, Solon Springs CBC (Douglas County).

Habitat: The Polk County broods were observed on semipermanently flooded wetlands. Dominant vegetation included cattail, burreed, and coontail. Most summering pairs are observed on small semipermanent wetlands.


Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

Status: Regular migrant and winter resident, one summer record.

Migration: Common migrant throughout the Valley, most numerous along the St. Croix River and on large lakes of the Northern Highland. Fall migrants arrive in the Northern Highland 20 September to 1 October and reach the Western Upland 10-20 October. Peak fall common goldeneye populations occur 10-30 November.

Spring migrants reach peak abundance 10 March to 1 April and most have departed by 1 May (latest-30 May 1967, Burnett County). Movement of spring migrants is similar to fall; most birds use rivers and large lakes. Goddard (1975) found that common goldeneyes on prairie wetlands made up <1% of the total spring waterfowl population; his 4-year observations totaled 707 individuals. On the St. Croix River < 16 km from Goddard's study area, daily totals in excess of 100 individuals were recorded on 8 March 1975, 11 March 1977, and 9 April 1978. Yearly totals in excess of 2,000 individuals along the St. Croix River were regularly recorded from 1972 to 1978.

Winter: Common winter resident wherever open water is present. Primary wintering populations occur at the confluence of the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers at Prescott, Wisconsin (150 to 200 individuals); below the Alan S. King generating plant at Bayport (Washington County); near Hudson 425 on 1974 Afton CBC and 360 on 1975 Afton CBC); and below the electric generating dam at St. Croix Falls-Taylors Falls (50 to 100 individuals).

Summer: S. D. Robbins observed a lone male throughout the summer of 1967 in St. Croix County.

Habitat: Large open stretches of rivers that apparently support healthy populations of fishes and invertebrates. During migration, common goldeneyes are typically associated with large (>20 ha) permanent lakes.


Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)

Status: Accidental, two records.

Records: Faanes and Goddard (1976) cited one observation from East Twin Lake, St. Croix County, on 8 May 1975. M. R. Olson observed one male along Trout Brook Road near Hudson, St. Croix County, on 1 January 1977. The bird was observed again on 2 January 1977 on the St. Croix River.


Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)

Status: Regular migrant, one summer and one winter record.

Migration: Fairly common migrant in the Western Upland and Central Plain; common on forested lakes in the Northern Highland. Goddard (1975) found that buffleheads constituted 1.6% of the total spring waterfowl population and 3.5% of the diving duck population on prairie wetlands in central St. Croix County.

Spring migrants arrive in the Western Upland 20 March to 1 April (earliest-13 March 1966, Washington County) and peak populations occur about 20 April. Migrants arrive in the Northern Highland 1-10 April, reaching peak numbers 15-25 April. Departure from the Valley occurs by 25 May. Fall migrants arrive in the Northern Highland about 1 October and the Western Upland about 5 October. Peak fall populations occur 20 October to 1 November and departure occurs by 25 November. Peak fall populations on central St. Croix County wetlands usually total 150 to 200 individuals.

Summer: S. D. Robbins observed a lone bufflehead at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, on 17 June 1976. This may have been an injured bird.

Winter: A flock of 40 buffleheads was observed on the St. Croix River near Grantsburg, Burnett County, from 12-13 January 1949 (Robbins 1949).

Habitat: Buffleheads are associated with a variety of wetland types during spring migration, including temporarily, seasonally, and permanently flooded wetlands, and riverine habitats. During fall migration buffleheads are usually associated with large semipermanently and permanently flooded wetlands.


Oldsquaw (Clangula hyemalis)

Status: Casual, five records.

Records: Oldsquaw were observed on Oakridge Lake near New Richmond, St. Croix County, on 24 October 1974 (S. R. Schneider); 14 October 1975 (R. E. Faanes); and 2 October 1977 (C.A. Faanes). One was observed at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Burnett County, on 22 April 1952 (Strelitzer 1952). In Washington County, three birds were observed on 6 January 1965.


Common Eider (Somateria mollissima)

Status: Accidental, one record.

Record: One female common eider was shot on Phantom Lake, Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Burnett County, on 10 November 1968 (Tessen 1969b).


White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi)

Status: Casual, four records.

Records: N. R. Stone observed one at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, on 8 May 1950 (Robbins 1950b), and R. Brown observed one there on 12 August 1975. C. A. Faanes and W. Norling observed a female on Oakridge Lake, St. Croix County, on 18 October 1974. I observed a female at Amery, Polk County, on 9 November 1976.


Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)

Status: Casual, three records.

Records: A single surf scoter was observed at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Burnett County, on 5 October 1974. On 6 October 1974, two birds were shot from a group of four at Crex Meadows by J. O. Evrard. Photos were taken of the two birds. B. A. Moss observed a flock of six surf scoters on Deer Lake, Polk County, on 30 October 1975.


Black Scoter (Melanitta nigra)

Status: Casual, two records.

Records: A female black scoter was observed on West Twin Lake near Roberts, St. Croix County, on 18 October 1974 (Faanes and Goddard 1976). On 1 January 1977, I observed a female black scoter with a group of black ducks and mallards at the mouth of the Kinnickinnic River, Pierce County (Lien and Lien 1977).


Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)

Status: Regular migrant and nesting species, accidental in winter.

Migration: Fairly common migrant in the Western Upland and Central Plain, rare and local in the Northern Highland. Goddard (1975) reported that ruddy ducks constituted 1% of the total spring waterfowl population and 2.2% of the diving duck population in St. Croix County. Ruddy ducks are the latest arriving waterfowl species in spring. The average arrival date is 10 April in St. Croix County and 25 April at Crex Meadows, Burnett County (earliest dates-24 March 1976, St. Croix County and 4 April 1948, Burnett County). Peak spring populations in St. Croix, Polk, and Washington counties occur 25 April to 10 May; departure of nonbreeding birds is by 20 May. Fall migration begins in early September and peak numbers occur 25 September to 15 October. The largest groups recorded during fall migration range from 25 to 30 birds per wetland. Departure from this region occurs by 1 November (latest-27 November 1967, Washington County).

Nesting Season Distribution: Uncommon and local breeding duck on prairie wetlands of St. Croix, Polk, and Washington counties. These breeding popuations occur in pockets of high density wetlands in the respective counties. Peterson (1978) reported that ruddy ducks made up < 1% of the total breeding duck population in St. Croix and Polk counties. Three brood records have been obtained at Crex Meadows, two in 1973 and one in 1974.

Winter: One ruddy duck was observed on the Afton CBC on 22 December 1956.

Habitat: Ruddy ducks are characteristic of semipermanently and permanently flooded wetlands that are dominated by cattail, hardstem bulrush, and river bulrush. Most wetlands occupied by breeding ruddy ducks vary from 1-3 m deep.


Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)

Status: Regular migrant and nesting species, two winter records.

Migration: Uncommon migrant throughout the Valley, fairly common locally along heavily wooded lakes and streams in the Northern Highland. Goddard (1972) reported that hooded mergansers made up 0.2% of the total spring waterfowl population in St. Croix County. This low percentage resulted from censusing prairie wetlands that are not utilized regularly by hooded mergansers. Spring migrants arrive in the Western Upland 1-10 April (earliest-23 March 1968, St. Croix County) and the Northern Highland about 10 April (earliest-14 March 1966, Burnett County). Peak abundance occurs 20 April to 5 May and departure from nonbreeding areas occurs by 15 May. Fall migration begins in early September in the Northern Highland and migrants reach the Western Upland about 15 September. Peak fall populations occur 15 October to 1 November and departure by 20 November. Peak fall populations in western Wisconsin range from 50 to 75 birds on important staging wetlands.

Nesting Season Distribution: Fairly common (and local) breeding duck throughout the Valley. Hooded mergansers make up a small proportion of the breeding population on prairie wetlands where the most intensive surveys have been conducted. Lack of survey work along streams and in wooded lake regions contributes to the poor understanding of their breeding distribution.

Winter: There are two winter records including one bird along the St. Croix River near Grantsburg, Burnett County, on 9 January 1956 and one bird on the Afton CBC on 1 January 1975.

Habitat: In the Western Upland and Central Plain,breeding hooded mergansers use heavily wooded river and stream habitats for breeding. An abundance of dead trees providing natural nesting cavities is an important component of their breeding habitat. In the Northern Highland, breeding birds occupy large forest-bordered lakes and acidic bog-type lakes in addition to riverine habitats.


Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)

Status: Regular migrant and winter resident, two summer records.

Migration: Common migrant throughout the Valley. Goddard (1975) reported that common mergansers made up 0.1 % of the total spring waterfowl population in St. Croix County. This estimate reflects late dates of censusing, which did not coincide with the peak migration period of this bird, rather than an actual low population. Spring migration begins with a noticeable influx about 20 February. Spring populations build rapidly through March reaching peak numbers 20-30 March and most birds have departed by 30 April. Fall migrants arrive in the Northern Highland 20-30 September and reach the Western Upland about 10 October. Peak fall populations occur 10 November to 1 December and nonwintering birds have departed by 15 December. During peak fall periods, up to 1,000 individuals have been recorded along the lower St. Croix River in Washington County.

Winter: Uncommon winter resident of the lower St. Croix River and along open stretches of water on major tributaries. The largest group recorded on the Afton CBC was 65 birds on 1 January 1958. Winter populations are directly related to the severity of winter weather. During 1974-75, groups of 30 to 35 common mergansers were regularly observed along the St. Croix River through late December and early January. The record cold of 11 January 1975 (-40°C), froze nearly the entire river system and common mergansers were not observed again until mid-February when the first migrants returned.

Summer: Three common mergansers were observed in Chisago County on 16 June 1975 (Eckert 1976), and a lone male was observed near New Richmond, St. Croix County, on 27 June 1975. These birds undoubtedly were lingering migrants.

Habitat: Primarily a species of large, deep, permanently flooded wetlands and the major rivers of the Valley.


Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)

Status: Regular migrant, two summer and one winter records.

Migration: Fairly common migrant throughout the Valley, occasionally common on larger lakes of the Central Plain. Goddard (1975) reported that red-breasted mergansers made up only 0.3% of the total spring waterfowl population in St. Croix County. This estimate indicates that censuses were concentrated on smaller wetlands and were not conducted to coincide with peak migration.

Spring migrants arrive in the Western Upland about 20 March and reach the Northern Highland 1-10 April. Peak spring migration occurs 10-25 April and departure by 15 May. Fall migrants arrive in the Northern Highland 20-30 September and reach the Western Upland about 10 October. Peak fall populations occur 25 October to 15 November and departure by 10 December. During the peak of fall migration, concentrations of 50 to 75 birds are typically recorded on important staging wetlands.

Summer: A lone female was observed at Crex Meadows, Burnett County, on 1 July 1955. In Washington County an injured bird was observed 24 June 1975 (Eckert 1976).

Winter: A group of four was observed on the St. Croix River on the Afton CBC, 1 January 1975. Five were observed in St. Croix County on 5 January 1942 (Barger 1942).

Habitat: Red-breasted mergansers are characteristic of large, deep-water permanently flooded wetlands and riverine habitats. Occasional small groups of migrants occur on semipermanently flooded wetlands during spring migration.


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