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Home > Resources & Publications > Newsletters & Magazines > Chenier Ecology > 2007 > 8-07

Resources & Publications:  Chenier Ecology

August 2007

Bluewings - Early Migrants

For diehard waterfowl hunters suffering from withdrawal, a brief respite is right around the corner. The September Teal Season offers hunters an opportunity to harvest early migrating green-winged and cinnamon teals – but primarily the blue-winged teal (Anas discors).

Blue-winged teal are highly migratory. By the time the regular duck season opens in November, most of the early migrants will be long gone. As cool fronts begin to move south out of Canada, the teals take flight. With each subsequent front, another wave of birds will be swept southward. If the front is strong enough, many of the birds will move on, as if they vanished from Louisiana’s coastal areas over night. However, some are around throughout the winter.

It’s been learned through banding studies that their final destinations include Mexico, Central America and as far south as Argentina and Peru.

These birds don’t stay put long as they begin showing up in coastal Louisiana in large numbers again in late December and early January on their return migration to breeding and nesting grounds in the northern plains states and Canada. However, they have been known to breed and nest throughout their range including here in Louisiana.

The health of waterfowl populations is important to coastal Louisiana. Not only is it a part of the social heritage and seasonal activities along the coast, it is also significant economically. In 2003, the total economic effect of waterfowl hunting in Louisiana was more than $164 million. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife harvest surveys, blue-winged teal were the most common species in Louisiana hunter's bags (22 percent) during the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

For coastal communities, this can mean lots of money flowing through in the form of expenditures on groceries, fuel, supplies, lodging, land leases, etc. It can also mean jobs and salary earnings from guide services, processing facilities, cooking and maintenance at lodges, etc.

State sales tax revenues generated from waterfowl hunting and associated activities was more than $4 million. Federal taxes are also collected on supplies associated with hunting. These funds are used to support wildlife management and land management which benefits coastal mashes and waterfowl.

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