The Truth About Molting

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

Waterfowl molt twice a year. During their first molt in summer they lose all of their feathers because of damage that occurred during their grueling migration.

Their second molt of the year—at least for the drakes— now that’s a little bit different. That molt has more to do with romance…the waterfowl version of it, anyway.

And this molt is the replacement of feathers – putting on their breeding plumage …for the males of waterfowl species this is the time you start seeing the very, very colorful plumage which is an attractant for attracting mates.

Kevin Kraai is a waterfowl specialist in East Texas. Kraai says the hens also molt at this time, but instead of getting a bright set of feathers…

The females do the exact opposite. They put on more camouflage or cryptic plumage…because where they nest…they actually nest in the uplands….up in the grass….very vulnerable to predators. And the more camouflaged they are the more likely it is they’ll survive. One sex is putting on very, very vibrant colors and the other one is putting on very, very cryptic colors…for the same purpose.

You can learn more about waterfowl plumage at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Web site.

That’s our show for today…made possible by 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.

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