Above: Drone imagery of snow geese staging in the Saint Lawrence River intertidal zone at Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area (Québec) during fall migration
Millions of geese and other waterfowl migrate across North America each spring and fall, with enormous concentrations making stopovers in key staging areas. These sites provide the opportunity to estimate and monitor their populations over time. With ground-based observer estimates known to be prone to bias and inaccuracy, and conventional aerial surveys costly and often causing birds to flush upon approach, small drone aircraft systems can provide an accurate, economical, and disturbance-free alternative. Furthermore, depending on their appearance in the imagery, some species are amenable to automated counting techniques, saving much time in post-survey analysis.