Food Habits of Sea Ducks Atlantic Maritimes

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Numbers of scoters (black, surf, and white-winged) and long-tailed ducks wintering in the Maritime provinces of Canada and the Chesapeake Bay (MD and VA, USA) have noticeably declined in recent years. Common goldeneye populations have also declined. Changes in the location of these seaduck populations have also been observed and have given managers new concerns. Many factors related to human population increases have been implicated in causing changes in the distribution and abundance of seaducks. Anthropogenic factors that could effect the distribution and food habits of seaduck populations include direct and indirect causes, such as excessive development of coastal areas, increased year-round boat traffic, and increased levels of contamination. In addition, the focus of guided hunts has changed due to declines in Canada goose populations, putting increased pressure on seaducks. The Atlantic Seaduck Project is a large study dealing with many aspects of seaduck populations and habitat ecology. One aspect of this large study dealing with seaducks determines the food habits of seaducks and the habitat being used by wintering ducks in the Maritimes and Chesapeake Bay areas of the Atlantic coast.