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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Waterfowl and Game Laws

We had a full afternoon of learning today at a special location.  Today we headed out to the Lake Sam Rayburn Nature Center where the director, Rachel, helped us learn about waterfowl.  Whenever, I think of waterfowl, I cannot help but think that the day these animals were created God said, "Let's pull out the paints today!"  There is so much color and sometimes it appears that the feathers have been created by the sweep of a brush.  I love learning about the different species within this group of birds.

While we waited for everyone to make it to the center, we set up a short compass & pacing course.  We learned that heading in the right direction is not good enough if you do not pace yourself properly.  We will need to work on this skill next time.

Once we had all gathered at the center, Kevin gave an excellent presentation on waterfowl to get us in the right direction.  Here is some of the information he shared:

Green Teal (puddle)
Wigeon (puddle)
Gadwall (puddle)

Wood Ducks
  • Found only in North America and mostly in the Mississippi Flyway
  • They inhabit most wetlands, rivers, ponds, and freshwater lakes.
  • The wood duck perches and nests in trees, 90% hatching in tree cavities.
  • The wood duck travels at 37 mph.

Mallard Ducks
  • Distributed across the Northern Hemisphere
  • Migratory across the northern breeding range
  • Winters in Mexico
  • Wide range of habitats and climates, Artic tundra to suptropical regions
  • Found in both freshwater and saltwater wetlands
  • The adult male is unmistakable, with a bright green head, black rear end and a bill that is yellowish orange with black tip and white collar
  • The female is mottled in color with wings slightly varied in color
  • Mallards are omnivorous, based on stage of development and food availibility
Pintail Ducks
  • Wide ranging migration
  • This dabbling duck breeds across northern and Midwest United States
  • Winters in the south nerly to the equator
  • Breeding habitat is unwooded wetlands
  • In winter, utilizes wider range of open habitats (i.e. sheltered estuaries, brackish marshes, coastal lagoons)
  • Highly sociable outside of breeding season, forming large mixed flocks with other ducks
Canvasback (diving)
Shoveler (puddle)
Ruddy Duck (diving)

If you would like to test your waterfowl identification skills, try this link from Texas Ducks Unlimited. However, you might want to look over the pictures to better your identification skills first at the photo gallery from the same website.

After Kevin completed his presentation, Rachel took everyone outside to play a game.  The game was called "Sweeties" and the object of the game was to watch for details.  She explained that this is very important when identifying waterfowl.  We would see this ourselves later in the afternoon. 

After a snack and water break, we welcomed our Texas Game Warden, James, to talk to us about gaming laws and hunter safety.  The group was so quiet as they listened to would have thought he was a law enforcer or something!  Oh yeah....he was!!! 

Seriously, James gave us a lot of information about gun safety.  One thing he emphasized was to know where your gun is pointed at all times.  He told the group it would be like having a gun with a laser attached to the end and wherever it was pointed it was zapping things with its laser.  We also talked about the importance of the safety on a gun.  Then he reviewed a few gaming laws.  I found a great website with a hunter safety quiz.  I encourage everyone to check it out for practice.

We ended the day with a wildlife biologist, Sean, talking to the group about identifying duck wings.  He did a great job of going over the details of a wing.  This is where it becomes important to focus on details.  Each duck had obvious differences once we looked at the wings closely.

For a good look at duck wings, look at the following sites:

1 comment:

  1. Hello I was wondering if you would mind if I used your Gadwall photo in my Federal Duck Stamp entry. It would be much appreciated!