Thursday, March 04, 2010
The canvasback is known as a duck of large ocean bays and other big water, where they congregate in large flocks. However, they nest in small wetland areas. Look closely in the coming months, and you may be lucky to see some around Idaho.
The canvasback is a large, striking duck, easily distinguished from other speces by its sloping beak profile.
It was once the famous waterfowl species of the Chesapeake Bay, but has declined significantly there due to the loss of its primary food source, wild celery. In fact, in the 1980's, the canvasback population crashed across the continent.
According to Ducks Unlimited, this was due to a loss of nesting habitat in the prairie pothole region of the Dakotas and Canada and also due to ingesting spent lead ammunition (this ammunition has since been banned for waterfowl hunting).
The bird's populations have since rebounded, but they are still heavily dependent on healthy wetland habitat, particulary in the prairies.
Idaho is not in the canvasback's main nesting range, but some do nest here.
Last year, two batches of canvasback ducklings were recorded at The Nature Conservancy's Silver Creek Preserve. You can also often find a few on the wetlands of the Camas Prairie near Fairfield, including Centennial Marsh.