A Different Duck

I have a confession to make. I may be a different duck. During a crisp fall morning in the marsh, I get a kick out of seeing a variety of different waterfowl species flying overhead. I’ll admit that as the season progresses I won’t turn my nose up at a limit of mallards, but early in the season I don’t feel like I’m squandering the day by watching a variety of feathers flock together.

Ecologically, this is just a factor of time, place, and how species have adapted to take advantage of wetlands across the continent. Like people, certain species show up early, while others take their time in getting where they are “supposed” to be. Also like us, some waterfowl are picky eaters and others don’t seem to have many standards. When and where you hunt can affect which species you are likely to encounter. With a 60 day hunting season folks can takes advantage of many waterfowl species as they migrate to and through the Mingo basin.

Wood Ducks

These sharply clad birds that call the timber home love acorns, but will also eat other seeds like cypress, buttonbush, and bur reed when push comes to shove. At times they’ll forage on waste grain in wheat and corn stubble as well. When temperatures start to dip, we usually see a similar downhill trend in our wood duck harvest in Pools 2 and 3 as they head south.

Pintail

Another sleek looking fowl, these birds prefer more open habitats and won’t be found weaving through the trees. These ducks forage on the small seeds of panic grass, rice-cut grass, chufa, and smartweed found out in Units A and B. In agricultural settings they will forgo corn, but dive into rice fields. Their numbers will increase in October and typically peak sometime in November before their numbers begin to decrease heading into December as their flock moves south. However, in January we will see large groups moving back north.

Green-winged Teal

These little jet-fighters are like their early season cousins the blue-wings and like to eat on mudflats. Disked openings that show water early and incorporate the vegetation into the soil set the table for these birds. Here they grub on moist soil seeds and a variety of invertebrates. Instead of here one day and gone tomorrow, the migration curve of green-winged teal typically extends into a good part of our waterfowl season.

Wigeon

Also known as a baldpate because

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Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish.