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The World Of Amazing Waterfowl Birds

Waterfowl Population

  • Total Estimated 49.2 million breeding ducks in 2014.
  • Represents eight percent increase from last 2013.
  • 2013 were estimated 45.6 million
  • 1955 - 2013 is forty-three percent higher on long term averages.

Waterfowl Research Facts

The waterfowl birds are found all over the world but in Antarctica. There has been research done with the waterfowl birds and there are many different species in the Waterfowl family of birds.

  1. A Hen Pintail that was carrying a satellite transmitter that was migrating from Alaska landed on a shrimp boat that was off the Northern Oregon coast, which the crew took back to the shore to release back to the wetlands that were close by.
  2. A study was conducted on the Manitoba's Delta Marsh, on the Canvasback Ducks, and they learned that ninety percent of their nest contain Redhead Duck eggs which the hens would foster to raise as their own. Some nest have been discovered to have as many as fifty eggs in them. The breeding strategy is called Parasitism which a few different waterfowl use, the Wood Ducks, Ruddy Ducks, Redhead Ducks, Canvasbacks Ducks, Hooded Mergansers Ducks, and Snow Geese.
  3. Biologist used Wood Ducks in a test to see what type of acorns that they preferred while the ducks were in captivity. The results showed the Wood Ducks preferred the tiny willow acorns over larger acorns that other oak trees produced. It was also discovered that the Wood Duck had as many as fifteen pin acorns packed into their gizzards and the esophagus.
  4. One duck a Pale-Bellied Brant stopped moving on Canada's Cornwallis Island, that was being tracked with a satellite transponder. The British researchers went to the island to find the duck, and tracked it to the home of an Inuit hunter, there was the duck in the freezer still wearing the transponder in its back.
  5. During 1911 in Western Nebraska, hunters found small gold nuggets in the gizzards of ducks but the source of where the nuggets came from was never found.
  6. U.S Wildlife Service Biologist Johnny Lynch, in 1940, said that while he flew over Louisiana's Catahoula Lake, he saw about eight million ducks from the air, but there was way too many to count, but there could have been close to that.
  7. On March of 1985, the secret of the location of the Spectacled Eider's Ducks, was finally solved, by researchers. The researchers used satellites transmitters to follow the ducks which the ducks went into the middle of the Bering Sea where there were a large concentration that was gathered in a fissure of packed ice.
  8. Eastern Arkansas had a very violent tornado and hailstorm in January 1999, which left more than three thousand waterfowl dead that span a distance of seven miles.

Estimate Of Different Waterfowl 2014

  • Mallards - 10.9 million - Similar to 2013 - 42% above long term average
  • Gadwall - 3.8 million - similar to 2013 - 102% above long term average
  • American Widgeon - 3.1 million - similar to 2013 - 18% above long term average
  • Green Wing Teal - 3.4 million - similar to 2013 - 69% above long term average
  • Blue Wing Teal - 8.5 million - similar to 2013 - 75% above long term average
  • Northern Shovelers - 5.3 million - similar to 2013 - 114% above long term average
  • Northern Pintails - 3.2 million - similar to 2013 - 20% below low term average
  • Redheads - 1.3 million - similar to 2013 - 85% above long term average
  • Canvasbacks - 0.7 million - similar to 2013 - 18% above long term average
  • Scaup - 4.6 million - similar to 2013 - similar long term average
  • Black Ducks - (Eastern Survey Area) 619, 000 - similar to 2013 - similar long term average

The report was release on July 2, 2014, by the U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, on the 2014 Trend in Duck Breeding, population based on surveys conducted in May and June.


Diving Ducks / Long Distance Non-Stop Migrate

All waterfowl ducks can dive and some better than others.

  1. Long Tail Duck formally known as the Old Squaw, is thought to be the best.
  2. There has been more than 80 caught in fishing nets at depths of 240 feet off of the Wolfe Island, and Lake Ontario that have been reported.
  3. The World Emperor Penguin has been recorded at depths of 1,770 feet and called the champion driver.
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Long Distance Non-Stop Migrate there are only two that migrate without stopping.

  1. Black Brant Duck migrate about three thousand miles non-stop traveling to their winter nesting grounds, Baja, California from Coastal Alaska in about sixty to seventy-two hours. This causes them to lose about half of their body weight.
  2. The Pintail Duck does not migrate as far as the Black Brant Duck but does migrant about two thousand miles non-stop that has been raised in Alaska to Hawaii where they winter at. The trip is a similar trans-Pacific flight.

Pictures are from left to right:

  • Gadwall Duck
  • American Widgeon Duck
  • Green Wing Teal
  • Blue Wing Teal

Plumage (Feathers), Wings And Speed

The plumage is the feathers of a waterfowl which can serve a couple of functions. It is produced two ways, by pigment (colors) or the physical structure of the feathers.

  1. Two main types of pigment is: Melanin and Lipochroms - These produces colors of red, brown, yellow, green, and violet shades.
  2. Appearance are results from pigment combinations with fine feathers structure. When moving in the sunlight they may appear to change colors

Wings provide two functions of the flight:

  1. Primary Feathers: provide thrust (tips of wings)
  2. Secondary Feathers: provide lift (rear edge of wings)

The majorly of waterfowls speed range around forty to sixty miles per hour, but many average fifty miles per hour. A fifty miles per hour tail wind the migrating Mallards Ducks are able to travel eight hundred miles in an eight hour flight; however studies have shown that the bird would need to rest and feed for three to seven days to replace the energy it lost during the flight.

Weight Of Waterfowls

  1. North America's smallest female waterfowl Green Teal weighs as little as six ounces.
  2. Branta Hutchinsil Minima (Crackling Canadian Goose) weights three pounds.
  3. Large North American waterfowl - Trumpeter Swan weight more than thirty-five pounds - Largest duck of Northern Hemisphere is Elder Duck at six pounds.

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