By John Pollman
With their highly developed sense of vision, waterfowl can make life tough for those hunters trying to keep out of sight. In the following article, Ducks Unlimited's John Coluccy explains how ducks and geese spot danger and provides five tips on how to stay hidden and put more birds in your decoys
1. Faces and Hands Covered
Having studied the habits of black ducks for his work with Ducks Unlimited, biologist John Coluccy knows a thing or two about wary waterfowl. Chief among the ways black ducks and other species of waterfowl keep themselves safe is using a highly developed sense of vision.
Waterfowl, like most bird species
, live an aerial life at high speeds, Coluccy says, 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 at the Great Lakes/Atlantic regional office in Ann Arbor, Michigan
. "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 behavior
to detect differences in the quality of plumage worn by competing drakes, Coluccy says, which allows her to differentiate between a juvenile and adult bird 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 I as concerns while hunting will stick-out like a flashlight to a duck or goose."
Faces and hands left uncovered are two of the more common mistakes, Coluccy says, making a face-mask or face paint and gloves must-haves for every waterfowl hunter.
"Keeping those hands and faces covered is even more important if you've got hunters shifting around in the blind," says Coluccy. "Waterfowl possess an acute sense of vision that allows them to detect very, very slight movements, so wearing something on your face and your hands and minimizing movement is critical."