teal in iowa

Migratory Game Birds, General Information

Waterfowl In Iowa, Overview


The links below provide maps of areas closed to the hunting of Canada geese. Additional refuge areas exist on some state wildlife management areas that are closed to ALL hunting. These maps are provided as a convenience to hunters to increase awareness of areas closed to the taking of Canada geese. Every effort has been made to insure the accuracy of these maps; however, the boundaries shown on these maps are approximate representations, and hunters should consult the Administrative Code of Iowa 571-91.4(2) for exact written descriptions of refuge areas.

Why is the DNR banding ducks and geese?

When banded birds are recovered by hunters or recaptured by other banders and the recovery/recapture information is reported to the USGS Bird Banding Lab, we can learn how long the bird has lived and where it is at a specific time of the year. Banding projects that are implemented during brood-rearing or nesting periods can also tell us where birds go to reproduce and, in some cases, if they nested. Band recoveries from birds killed by hunters tell us where and when the birds from the banded population are being harvested. If a large enough sample of birds are banded and recovered annually, biologists can estimate the average survival of the birds in the population. This is important for monitoring the status of most populations of ducks and geese, but particularly important for species that cannot be directly counted such as wood ducks.

How many ducks and geese are usually banded in Iowa?

DNR Wildlife staff band from 4,000 to 5,000 ducks and 4,000 to 6,000 giant Canada geese in Iowa each year. Ducks and geese are banded throughout the state. Most of the banded birds are young-of-the-year, i.e., they hatched the same year they were banded. Most of the banded ducks are wood ducks, although other species are banded as well.

When are geese and ducks banded in Iowa?

Geese are banded in late June and early July, while in their flightless stage. Ducks are banded after ducklings have attained a size adequate for handling and attaching bands without harming the birds, usually beginning in late July and continuing until the first week in September. The June 2000 Wildlife Bureau Featured Activity article "June means Jewelry for Geese" provides information regarding the Bureau's annual goose banding activities.

If I recover a banded bird while I'm hunting, can I keep the band?

Yes, you can keep the band. Many hunters like to collect their bands as mementos of their hunts. We only ask that you report the band number, and the date and location where you harvested the bird.

To whom should I report the banded duck (or goose) that I shot?

You should report all banded ducks and geese that you recover to the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) in Washington D.C. The BBL keeps records of all migratory birds banded in North America. You can do this over the phone by calling (toll free) 1-800-327-2263 or over the Internet via the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center - Bird Banding Lab website, reportband.gov. The BBL will send you a certificate with information about the banded bird that you recovered.

Want to learn more about bird banding?

The U.S. Geological Survey - Patuxent Wildlife Research Center - Bird Banding Laboratory coordinates all bird banding done in the United States and maintains records of band recoveries. For additional information regarding the hows and whys of bird banding we recommend visiting the Bird Banding Lab's site.


Developing Waterfowl hunting Season Regulations

Waterfowl are migratory birds and are influenced by factors that occur both within the state and beyond Iowa’s borders. Working with state wildlife agencies through the Flyway Councils, the US Fish and Wildlife Service identifies a range of reasonable alternatives for waterfowl hunting seasons.


The Annual Process of Developing Waterfowl Hunting Regulations

Migratory game bird regulations are governed by a cooperative process involving Iowa government rules, nationally with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and internationally with Canada under the Migratory Game Bird Treaty. This is a step by step process that begins in January of each year and must be followed in order that the waterfowl seasons are allowed to open each fall.

Dog training has deep roots in hunting and conservation culture. In order to develop dogs that can reliably hunt and recover game, it is vital to train with a variety of game under varying conditions. It is important that dog trainers and clubs know the rules concerning use of game during training to both support wildlife conservation and stay out of trouble with the law. Many state and federal laws and regulations apply to the importation, possession, use and disposal of game used in training and field events. These rules serve two general purposes: to protect the health and welfare of native wildlife populations in Iowa, and to ensure that hunting regulations are enforceable.

Dog training refers to any teaching or exercising activity involving sporting dogs in which the primary purpose is to enhance performance. Sporting dogs are utilized for hunting game birds and game mammals and include breeds as pointers, setters, retrievers, and hounds.

Regulations governing the training of sporting dogs vary according to what species the dogs are being trained with and where the training takes place.

Dog Training and Trialing Information

Habitat Acquisition Statistics: Prairie Pothole Joint Venture


Special September Canada goose seasons are open on specified dates during the first two weeks of September in the Des Moines, Cedar Rapids-Iowa City, and Waterloo-Cedar Falls zones.

Canada Goose Zone boundary Maps:
Map: Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Zone
Map: Des Moines Zone
Map: Waterloo/Cedar Falls Zone

Textual Descriptions of Zone Boundaries
This special season is designed to increase the harvest of local Canada geese in and around urban centers to decrease conflicts between geese and people. Geese that reside in urban areas are generally exposed to less hunting pressure during regular goose seasons than geese in rural areas. Consequently urban goose populations often grow at faster rates than rural populations. Federal regulations require that this additional hunting opportunity be offered only when migrant Canada geese are not in Iowa. The geese harvested during this special season will predominantly be local Canada geese from the immediate area in and around the hunting zone, the same geese that are causing problems on golf courses, housing and business complexes and airports.

Establishing this zone does not constitute permission to hunt. Hunters must obtain permission from the person or entity in lawful control of the land to hunt geese. Shaded areas on the map denote approximate city boundaries. Permission to hunt within city limits must be granted by the city. Permission from the landowner, tenant or other person in lawful control of the land must always be obtained to hunt private land within or outside of city limits. Public areas outside of city limits may or may not be open to hunting. Check with the local land manager before attempting to hunt.

Fill with several inches of course wood shavings (not sawdust) and place on pipes over water. Erecting the boxes over land or in trees invites predators and extra measures must be taken to predator proof your nest box.

Download a simple wood duck box template


Federal Duck Stamp

Beginning July 2019, Iowa migratory bird hunters can buy their Federal Duck Stamp in the form of an E-Stamp through all Iowa license vendors and through the Go Outdoors Iowa online portal.

After purchasing the E-Stamp, hunters will be eligible to hunt using the E-Stamp for up to 45 days while the physical Federal Duck Stamp is being mailed to their home address.

Visit the US Fish & Wildlife Service website.

Harvest Information Program (HIP)

Beginning Dec. 15, hunters who purchase a 2022 license and plan to pursue migratory game birds will be required to register for Harvest Information Program (HIP). Migratory game birds mean more than ducks and geese; it includes ducks, geese, coots, doves, woodcock, rails, and snipe.


Once registered, hunters will need to write their confirmation number on the line provided at the top of their hunting license as proof of registration. The HIP registration can be found in the GoOutdoorsIowa mobile app by clicking on the purchase license button, and then logging in to your account.

HIP Instruction

HIP Instruction - Mobile

HIP Instruction - Website

Apprentice License

Migratory Game Bird Season Dates

We work hard to keep our calendar current, but always refer to the hunting regulation booklet for official, legal season dates.

2021-2022 North Zone Central Zone South Zone
Youth Waterfowl Sept. 25-26 Oct 2-3 Oct 9-10
Ducks, Mergansers & Coots Oct 2-8 &
Oct 16 - Dec 7
Oct 9-15 &
Oct 23 - Dec 14
Oct 16-22 &
Oct 30 - Dec 21
Dark Geese & Light Geese Sept 25 - Oct 10 &
Oct 16 - Dec 7 &
Dec 11 - Jan 8, 2022
Oct 2-17 &
Oct 23 - Dec 14 &
Dec 18 - Jan 15, 2022
Oct 9-24 &
Oct 30 - Dec 21 &
Dec 25 - Jan 22, 2022
 2021-2022 Statewide Limit
Special September Teal Sept 1 - 16 Daily limit is 6
Doves Sept 1 - Nov 29 Daily limit is 15
Snipe Sept 4 - Nov 30 Daily limit is 8
Rail Sept 4 - Nov 12 Daily limit is 12
Woodcock Oct 2 - Nov 15 Daily limit is 3
  • Special September Canada Goose (designated areas): Sep. 4-12, Daily limit is 5. Only in designated zones around Des Moines, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City and Cedar Falls/Waterloo. Special regulations apply. Maps: Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Zone, Des Moines Zone, and Waterloo/Cedar Falls Zone
  • Light Geese Conservation Order (additional regulations apply. Regulations, p. 21): Jan 23 - May 1, 2022
    White & blue phase snow geese & Ross’ geese

Urban Goose Meeting, Feb 2021