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Teal in Illinois: Numbers, charts, wooden decoys and hunting success in Aaron Yetter’s latest blog

Aaron Yetter’s latest blog gives an indepth take on teal in Illinois along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers with a nice aside on wooden decoys, carved by Tyler Wood.

Successful harvest of a blue-winged teal (Spatula discors) using handmade wooden decoys, carved by Tyler Wood, along the mudflats of the Illinois River. Photo by Pat Gregory.
Successful harvest of a blue-winged teal (Spatula discors) using handmade wooden decoys, carved by Tyler Wood, along the mudflats of the Illinois River.
Photo by Pat Gregory, by permission to Aaron Yetter and the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Aaron Yetter’s latest blog off the weekly aerial waterfowl survey for the Illinois Natural History focuses on the arc of teal. It includes a couple charts from along the two major rivers and a nice aside on wooden decoys.

Teal season in Illinois runs through Sunday, Sept. 20.

Click here for the listings of aerial surveys by the Illinois Natural History Survey. Keep up with research updates and aerial surveys at the Forbes Biological Station Facebook page.

Here is Yetter’s latest blog:

September 17, 2020 – Aerial Waterfowl Inventory Blog

After the rain and weather kept us grounded last week, we got back at it on Wednesday, September 16th. Blue-winged teal (Spatula discors) numbers dropped this week from what we witnessed on September 2nd; however, this wasn’t a big surprise. The teal migration was a little early this year with the weather patterns we have been witnessing. BWTE usually start with a bang in early September and decline rapidly from there. Green-winged teal (GWTE; Anas crecca) start slow and peak in late October/early November (Fig. 1).

Teal chart on the Illinois River. Provided by Aaron Yetter of the Illinois Natural History Survey.
Teal chart on the Illinois River.
Provided by Aaron Yetter of the Illinois Natural History Survey.

I expect the BWTE numbers to be even lower next week as the temperatures are forecast to dip into the lower 40’s over the weekend. Teal abundance this week was 30,895 and was down 32% from the September 2nd numbers along the Illinois River. This week we were closer (+9%) to the 10-yr average of 28,417 for teal. We also estimated 7,685 teal along the central Mississippi River, which was up 24% from the 10-yr average but down 23% from earlier in the month. Water was scarce at several of the top refuges of the lower Mississippi this week from Quincy to Grafton. This water management practice is usual as they gear up for October arrivals.

Teal chart on the Mississippi River. Provided by Aaron Yetter of the Illinois Natural History Survey.
Teal chart on the Mississippi River.
Provided by Aaron Yetter of the Illinois Natural History Survey.

I saw a Facebook post from a friend today that caught my eye. Pat Gregory hunts near the Forbes Biological Station and is usually successful at harvesting a few of the “blue rockets” storm trooping his decoys. Pat loves to hunt over wooden decoys, as he is a passionate decoy carver himself. A tradition that was handed down from his grandfather I believe. Anyway, Pat snapped [the photo at the top] of the morning’s bounty. He informs me the decoys were carved by Tyler Wood, and they were obviously good enough to lure this individual within range. Thanks for sharing Pat!

Be safe out there and enjoy the last weekend of teal season. For site specific information, please check out our webpage at www.bellrose.org. Stay tuned for more updates next week…….