The Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey has been conducted every year since 1955. The primary purpose of the survey is to provide information on spring population size and trajectory for certain North American duck species.
This survey does not cover the core ranges of about half of North American sea duck species. Nor does It differentiate Sea Duck species. Many species of North American sea ducks breed across vast Arctic regions that are difficult and costly to survey. Winter waterfowl surveys such as the Mid-winter Waterfowl Survey typically do not cover near shore or offshore coastal habitats used by sea ducks.
Regardless of the severe limitations of this survey for sea ducks, it does provides long term trends. These data are used extensively in the annual establishment of hunting regulations in the United States and Canada and are important in researching bird-environment relationships critical to effective conservation planning for waterfowl.