Archive for June 23rd, 2009

The Reason for Ugly Ducklings

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program

Twice a year you may find yourself face-to-face with some ugly ducks…

A duck will undergo two times during the year what we call a molt where they lose and replace all the feathers on their body.

Kevin Kraai is a waterfowl specialist. The first of the twice yearly molts leaves the birds vulnerable.

They molt every feather on their body, including their wing feathers, or their primaries. That takes place in late summer. And there is a period when they’re replacing their wing feathers that they are flightless, and it is a vulnerable time in their lifecycle.

However, these creatures are programmed to survive, and plan for their safety.

It just so happens that they will migrate to places that are conducive to their survival where they aren’t close to land bearing predators – and they’ll be out on the middle of large wetlands – away from predation.

Waterfowl molt because feathers don’t last forever. Drakes molt first, and hens molt once their ducklings are a little older. The reason waterfowl go through a second…partial molt… in winter …is strictly personal.

And this molt is the replacement of feathers – putting on their
breeding plumage

That’s our show…sponsored with a grant from the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program…working to increase fishing, hunting, shooting and boating opportunities in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.