Thursday, December 8, 2016

Duck, Duck, Goose

The Youth FIRST program met  Saturday, December 3, at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, to learn about the geese that are wintering at the Refuge. Here are some fast facts about geese and ducks for our readers.

"The Gathering" - Geese at HNWR, by Michael Sweatt

Migrating birds, especially waterfowl, follow migration routes called flyways or migration corridors. There are four primary corridors in North America. From east to west, they are the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central (which includes Hagerman NWR) and Pacific flyways.

So - why do geese fly in a “V” formation? It would be too hard to fly in an “S”... Actually, it conserves energy and makes it easier to keep track of each other.

What is a gaggle? A group of geese on the ground is called a gaggle or flock. A skein is a group in flight, and if flying in a “V” formation, they are called a wedge.

"Three in Flight", by Skip Stevens
Snow geese may spend as long as three months migrating one way, stopping over to feed and rest along their journey.

Geese are vegetarian - feeding on grasses, stems, leaves, grains and berries.

Snow and Ross's Geese feeding in field at HNWR, by Bill Powell
A nickname for the Canada goose is “the honker”.

A Blue Goose is a dark morph Snow Goose, with a white face, dark brown body, and white under the tail. The Blue Goose mascot for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife is named Puddles and is bright blue!

Snow Geese, with Blue Goose at left, by Rick Cantu
Love to hear the geese call? Listen here.

Have your ducks in a row? You might have a

Brace of ducks - a pair; Flock of ducks – on the ground; Flush of ducks – taking flight; Paddling of ducks or raft of ducks - group swimming; Team of ducks – group in flight

"Ducks in Flight", by Dana Crites
If you've heard one quack…you haven’t heard them all – most species have their own quack and male and females may have different quacks.

A goose or duck by any other name: Baby ducks - ducklings; Baby geese - goslings; Male ducks - drakes; Male geese - ganders

Eggs laid are called a clutch – there may be 10 – 20 in a clutch

Certified swimmers – goslings and ducklings can swim as soon as they are ready to fledge.

Diving ducks are found on oceans, seas, and inland water; dabblers are found on creeks and inland pools.

The lowdown on “down” – the small, soft feathers that provide insulation for birds, and when collected, for man. Down from Eider ducks is believed to be superior.

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