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Home > About the Chesapeake > Exploring the Bay > Chesapeake Bay Waterfowl
Chesapeake Bay Waterfowl

Diving ducks and dabblers, geese and swans—it's impossible to imagine Chesapeake Bay without waterfowl. Strategically located along the Atlantic Flyway, the Bay's open water, shallows and marshes beckon irresistibly to resident species as well as to millions of migratory waterfowl in search of rest and food. Various forces have brought change and challenges to the Bay's winged wildlife, yet in their awesome beauty, diversity and sheer numbers, waterfowl remain an integral part of the Chesapeake's story and allure.

The Bay hosts about one-third of all migratory waterfowl wintering on the Atlantic coast. While some species have thrived, others have diminished as natural and human factors have reshaped habitats and food resources. Still, roughly one million of these long-distance travelers call the Bay home during part or all of the year—their presence as much a part of the Bay scene as the water and the sky.

Types of Waterfowl
Types of Waterfowl Many waterfowl reside and visit the Chesapeake Bay region each year. From familiar mallard duck that reside in the Bay region to the 30,000 tundra swans that winter on the Bay each year there is a wide variety of waterfowl that depend on the Bay habitat.
Food for Fowl
Food for Fowl

One crucial source of food for waterfowl is the submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) that grows in the Bay. While many waterfowl feed directly on the SAV others look for the many animals like clams, worms and crustaceans that live within the SAV.

Carver's Art
Carver's Art The art of decoy carving began as a way for hunters to attract birds. A sucessful carver was able to produce a decoy that would attact many birds for the hunt. Today decoy carving has evolved into an artform that attracts many collectors from around the globe.
Hunting Tradition
Hunting Tradition Hunting the Bay's waterfowl began as a way to put food on the table, but soon evolved into a sporting tradition that drew hunters by the thousands. Today the Bay is still a popular destination for duck hunters, fishermen and other sportmen.
Explore Waterfowl
Leave No Trace Many Chesapeake Gateways offer a chance to see migratory and resident wildfowl, as well as to learn more about their ecology and about wildfowling traditions such as decoy carving. Find out where you can go to learn more about Chesapeake waterfowl.
Birds on the Wing
River Classification

The many waterfowl that visit the Bay regoin each year often travel many miles. Many come from the Canada and Alaska. The birds travel through what is known as the Atlantic Flyway, which is a major migration corridor leading to the Bay region.


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