US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in WILDLIFE MONOGRAPHS Number 100, October 1988.


The settling of breeding habitat by migratory waterfowl is a topic of both theoretical and practical interest. We use the results of surveys conducted annually during 1955-81 in major breeding areas to examine the factors that affect the distributions of 10 common North American duck species. Three patterns of settling are described: homing, opportunistic, and flexible. Homing is generally more pronounced among species that use more stable (more predictable) wetlands, such as the redhead (Aythya americana), canvasback (A. valisineria), lesser scaup (A. affinis), mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), gadwall (Anas strepera), and northern shoveler (Anas clypeata). Opportunistic settling is more prevalent among species that use less stable (less predictable) wetlands, such as northern pintail (Anas acuta) and blue-winged teal (Anas discors). Flexible settling is exhibited to various degrees by most species.