Delta Develops New Waterfowl ID Guide
Delta's Ashley Buetow photographed dozens of wings for the North American Waterfowl Field Identification Guide.
Waterfowl hunters looking for a better way to identify birds will soon have access to an easy to use, compact field guide.
The North American Waterfowl Field Identification Guide is a joint effort between Delta and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The purpose of the guide is to allow waterfowl hunters, conservation officers, schools and the public a method of identifying waterfowl quickly and easily in the field.
“The Service has come up with a very innovative way to key out ducks, geese and swans,” says Joel Brice, Delta’s senior director of conservation. “All you have to do is look at the hind toe on the foot and the color of the speculum within the secondary feathers on the wing. That’s it. Then you run that through a key.”
For ducks, if your bird has a lobed hind toe (a fleshy lobe that extends along the length of the hind toe), it means you have a diving duck such as a canvasback or redhead. No lobe sends you to the dabbling duck section, which includes teal and mallards etc. From there you key into the colors of the speculum, which will take you to a detailed description of the bird in hand. For geese and swans, the key relies on body and wing coloration, along with head characteristics for all three groups of waterfowl.
“The goal is to make identifying birds fast, easy and accurate”, says Brice.
The guide will cover 52 species of waterfowl commonly found in North America. Each waterfowl species will have common and scientific names, full body photos of a drake, a hen (within the ducks), wing and foot. Range maps and general behavioral descriptions will be included. Geese and swans will include photos of adult and juvenile coloration phases and morphs.
“Originally, the Fish and Wildlife Service was primarily interested in developing a guide for law enforcement in the field”, says Brice. “But as the concept evolved, it became apparent that hunters and other waterfowl enthusiasts could really benefit by the guide.”
The North American Waterfowl Field Identification Guide will be available for purchase by the fall of 2013.