Unlimited hosted a unique waterfowl workshop near Great Falls, Montana. The
workshop was held at Freezeout Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and included
employees from DU Natural Resources Conservation Service, and other wildlife
and environmental partners across Montana. Freezeout Lake is a prime nesting
ground for waterfowl and other wildlife, making it a favorite for birding
hobbyists and ideal for the waterfowl workshop.
The day started off early with some
bird watching and identification throughout the WMA. By the end of the day, the
group achieved a species count of 52 different birds sighted in the area.
Viewers got a chance to learn about different waterfowl species and talk with
biologists about the birds.
Workshop participants had the
opportunity to see the incubation process first-hand by flushing out nests and
candle the eggs. Egg candling is a neat and observational process of holding
the egg at the end of a dark tube towards sunlight to determine its stage of
incubation. A freshly laid egg is light and see-through, whereas an egg with
veins present or a dark solid presence tells the viewer the egg is far along in
its incubation process. A short informational discussion was held concerning
duck nest success and the effects predatory mammals, such as fox and coyotes,
have on nest success.
The last major section of the
workshop was an outdoor display and lecture of the various aquatic
invertebrates in the Freezeout Lake ecosystem. Group members observed these
invertebrates up close, including species of crustaceans, insects and flies,
such as damselflies. The discussion led to how important these invertebrates
are to migrating and nesting waterfowl as an important source of protein and
other nutrients. The discussion sparked interest in duck diets and waterfowl