Autumn brings many species of wintering ducks and seabirds to our waters. Watch carefully. Some dabble along the surface, feeding along shallow edges of lakes and estuaries. Others dive under the water, using their feet and occasionally their wings for propulsion. The male "dabblers" are often bright and colorful, whereas the females are mottled brown. The "divers" tend to be less colorful. You can learn more about these Green-winged Teal at Cornell's AllAboutBirds.
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Ducks - Diving and Dabbling
Adapted by Bob Sundstrom from a script by Frances Wood
This is BirdNote!
[Wing sounds of Surf Scoters]
Autumn brings millions of ducks flying south after nesting in the north. In most parts of North America, fall migration brings the greatest diversity of ducks we’ll see all year. Goldeneyes, scaup, wigeons and other species join familiar year-round ducks such as Mallards.
[Quacking of mallards]
Take a close look at autumn’s ducks as they forage on the water. Some dabble, while others dive.
[Whistling calls of American Wigeon]
“Dabbling ducks,” like the wigeons we’re hearing, feed by dipping their bills in water just below the surface, or dunking head first, so all you see are their tails pointing skyward. [Whistling calls of American Wigeons] They strain bits of vegetation and small invertebrates with their flattened bills.
“Diving ducks,” including scaup and mergansers, forage while swimming under water, using their feet or wings for propulsion. “Divers” with narrow, pointed bills snatch fish, while those with flatter bills, like Common Goldeneyes search along the bottom for invertebrates such as small clams. [Calls of Common Goldeneyes]
When you stop by a lake or saltwater beach this fall, keep an eye out for “dabblers” and “divers.” And take your time, because the divers may pop into view only when they need to catch a breath of air.
[More quacking and splashing]
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Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by A.A. Allen and W.W.H. Gunn.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org September 2016/2019 Narrator: Mary McCann
ID# 092005ducksKPLU/ duck-01b-2009-09-21-MM now duck-01c