Wild Women: Waterfowl Attract Hunters, Birdwatchers

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Waterfowl hunting opens this weekend.

Many hunters will head to flooded fields and timber, rivers, lakes and bayous of the Natural State.

Others may want to take advantage of this influx of ducks and geese and head out with their binoculars.  Arkansas is in the Mississippi Flyway, so millions of birds and ducks come through our state on their migration path.

Don’t let the winters blues get to you -- Get out to a local wildlife management area, bayou, stream, or reservoir for a chance to see some winter waterfowl.

Puddle Ducks
Ducks come in two major groups: puddle ducks and diving ducks. The puddle ducks (dabblers) are usually found in shallow water on inland ponds, streams, and lakes. Their primary mode of feeding is by tipping their heads below water to eat plants and other aquatic matter. Sometimes they tip so far under that their tails point straight up towards the sky. They can walk easily on land and can be seen dipping in puddles and flooded fields. Ducks in this group include mallards, gadwall, pintail, green and blue wing teal, wigeon, shoveler, and wood ducks. When flushed, they will often will take flight by lifting vertically up off of the water.

Diving Ducks
Diving ducks swim completely under the water for plants, fish, and crustaceans. So, they are usually found in deeper waters and rarely on land. In Arkansas these include ring-neck, redhead, canvasback, lesser scaup, greater scaup, goldeneye, bufflehead, ruddy duck, and common, hooded, and red-breasted merganser. Diving ducks' legs are shorter and set back further on the body than those of dabblers. This gives them more power for swimming underwater, but the disadvantage of not being able to walk well on land. Also, to take flight they must run across the surface of the water for a distance to gain enough altitude for flight.

Other Waterfowl
Other waterfowl species in winter include geese and swans. Finally, there are other water birds to keep an eye out for, such as grebes, loons, and coots.

Viewing Tips for Winter Waterfowl:

• Take a drive to Stuttgart, AR the Rice and Duck Capital of the World—you should see all kinds of waterfowl along the way. Visit Gov. Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center in Pine Bluff

• Look for puddle ducks in shallow water such as inland ponds, streams, and lakes.

• Look for diving ducks on our large reservoirs such as Beaver, Ouachita, Millwood, and Greer’s Ferry.

• A spotting scope, pair of binoculars, and field guide to waterfowl are recommended for the best viewing and identification.

• Waterfowl may develop a pattern of flying in and out of the area at certain times. If you watch long enough you may be able to predict what they may do next and get some great photos as a result.

Click here to see the online Arkansas Waterfowl guidebook.

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