Millions of migrating birds have started their annual commute to warmer regions of the world from as far away as Alaska, Canada, and Siberia. Millions of these birds land in the San Francisco Bay-Delta to refuel for their journeys, breed, or spend the winter. If you live in Oakley or anywhere else in the Delta you may be awakened at the dawn’s early light on Saturday by the sound of shotgun blasts in the distance. Waterfowl hunting season in the San Francisco Bay Area begins October 24, 2015 and ends January 31, 2016. The usual hours for all waterfowl hunting are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
California hosts about 39 different species and subspecies of waterfowl and provides vital winter habitat for about 60 percent (annually estimated to be between 4 – 6 million birds) of the waterfowl population in the Pacific Flyway. The majority of California’s wintering duck population originates from breeding areas located in Canada and Alaska where wet conditions provided another good spring nesting season. Elevated numbers of ducks and geese are headed this way. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports from 1955 to the present, Alaska’s wetlands produce, on average, 12 million ducks and more than a million geese each year. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for California breeding waterfowl where the estimated numbers have dropped from 2014 because of very low precipitation and poor habitat conditions.