Thursday, February 9, 2023

Where's The White?

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Nature, Wildlife

Ed Hessler

A tip from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology on how to improve your waterfowl identification skills. Included is a short quiz. 

The essay is from The Living Bird (October 7 2015) by Marc Devokaitis. It is based on paying attention to the pattern. The Lab's Kevin McGowan asks this simple question, "Where's the White?" and provides three examples to help you see the power of question. This is likely to require some discipline because one's eyes tend to dart everywhere when seeing waterfowl which are seldom seen in the depictions in field guides. Bad weather, distance, in flight, in mixed groups are great and often inviting distractors. The idea is to focus on and individual

There is a sample quiz, which is from a course offered by the Lab on duck and goose identification.

Maybe this is a tip you  know and use but then it may be relatively new and is another feature, in addition to these McGowan mentions: shape, color pattern, behavior, habitat, range, and call. Use them all - they are multiple lines of evidence.

McGowan notes that "all male dabbling ducks can be distinguished by the arrangement of their white patches alone."
Okay, it is barely mid-winter here although we are 2/3 through meteorological winter - solstice winter is our reality - and the opportunities for practice in the field are limited. This gives you time to let this practice soak and sink in if it is think about adding it to what you already know about waterfowl ID.


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