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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Five tips for staying concealed

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By John Pollmann

Waterfowl's keen vision can make life tough for hunters. After years spent studying the habits of American black ducks for Ducks Unlimited, biologist John Coluccy knows a thing or two about wary waterfowl. In this month's feature story, Coluccy shares his tips for staying hidden from these sharp eyes in the skies.

Like most bird species, waterfowl live an aerial life at high speeds, so having an acute sense of vision is a necessity for protection and navigation.

"Their vision is highly developed, with adaptations that allow them to see a color spectrum that we can't," says Coluccy, who serves as Ducks Unlimited's manager of conservation planning for the Great Lakes / Atlantic Region. "They see the same colors that we do, but what they see is much more rich and vivid."

A hen pintail, for instance, relies on her visual capacity during courtship to detect differences in the quality of plumage worn by competing drakes, Coluccy says. That allows her to differentiate between a juvenile and an adult male based on the different shades of brown at the nape of their necks and colors within their wing speculums.

"If she can spot those minute differences in color on another duck, imagine what she can see when approaching a duck blind," says Coluccy. "Little things that may not appear to you or me as concerns while hunting will stick out like a flashlight to a duck or goose."

Coluccy offers the following five tips to help you stay hidden and put more birds in your decoys.

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