May 4, 2012
'Average' Breeding Conditions in North Dakota
Retired flyway biologist John Solberg flies over North Dakota wetlands.
Retired flyway biologist John Solberg says wetland conditions and duck numbers north of Bismarck, North Dakota are 'average'. Solberg made the observation after a morning flight yesterday over the prairie pothole region.
"There are still some species that seem 'flocky'," says Solberg, a veteran of more than 30 years with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. "There's a lot of scaup in the neighborhood. I'm not convinced they're all going to stay here and settle to breed."
Solberg conducted the spring breeding survey for the USFWS in the Dakotas from 1988 until his retirement in 2010. From the seat of an airplane, he developed a unique perspective on the many factors that influence annual breeding conditions.
"The temporary and seasonal water is certainly lacking on the landscape this season," says Solberg. " But we've had a little bit of rain recently and the water looks a little bit better than I expected it would. I would say it's going to be about an average year, that's kind of my feeling."
Solberg took to the air with Delta photographer Fred Greenslade and Senior Director of US policy John Devney as part of a special report on Solberg's long career, which covered the drought-parched 80's, the arrival of CRP and the prolonged wet periods of the 1990's.
Find out more about John Solberg's story next week at www.deltawaterfowl.org and in the summer issue of Delta Waterfowl Magazine.