Georgia Wildlife Resources Division
2067 U.S. Hwy. 278, SE, Social Circle, GA 30025
Georgia's abundant waterfowl resources include both year-round residents as well as wintering migrants. However, the vast majority of Georgia's waterfowl are migrants from the northeastern United States, the upper midwest, central Canada, and other northern areas. These ducks spend the spring and summer in traditional northern breeding areas, and then migrate to southern latitudes during the fall and winter. The ducks then return to the breeding areas the following spring to repeat this annual cycle.
Most of North America's waterfowl breed in the "Prairie Pothole" region of the upper midwestern United States and southern Canada or in the Boreal Forest region of middle and upper Canada. A few species breed even farther north in the Arctic tundra. The "Prairie Pothole" is the name given to the geographic region of the upper midwest that contains numerous small, isolated, wetlands interspersed with grasslands and agricultural fields. This region provides nesting habitat for millions of ducks each spring and summer. These same ducks fly south each winter to escape harsh weather and take advantage of the available food supply in warmer, southern climates.
On a broad scale, there are four major wintering areas for North America's waterfowl: the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coast, the Mississippi River Alluvial Valley and Delta, the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, and the Pacific Coast and California's Central Valley. These wintering areas are extremely valuable to migrating waterfowl. They provide abundant food needed by ducks to maintain body weight over the winter so that they will be in good physical condition for the northern migration back to the breeding grounds. Ducks also begin the courtship process and often select mates while still on the wintering grounds.