Watching wild ducks pitch their wings to land on a pond ranks among leading outdoor experiences. I enjoy improvising a blind from old tree limbs and natural cover to get up close. My gear list includes a chair, binoculars, camera, and camouflage face mask. Duck hunters will tell you these wily birds can spot flashes of your face from surprising distances. No cell phone or iPods allowed. It’s time to take a spectacular front row seat for the show.
Imagine fall leaves floating down on you. It’s a gray, overcast day that waterfowl like. Your ears almost ring it’s so quiet. Did you hear that woodpecker? Listen to those crows! They must have spotted an owl napping in a nearby tree. Don’t move! A flock of mallards is circling overhead and calling to others already here. Their flight is like a ballet as the flock turns in unison and cups wings to land. Here’s my favorite part! See how they back-peddle, extend their feet, and hover to splash down. On landing, existing birds continue excitedly calling and chattering to welcome new arrivals. After pruning ruffled flight feathers, they cruise shallows eating smartweed and other preferred vegetation. If ducks roost (spend the night) on your pond, plan these outings around 4 p.m. Near sundown, the sky will resemble DFW Airport at rush hour. Sometimes you hear wind whistling beneath their wings. You can attract ducks by spreading corn around the water line. Please DO NOT hunt over such bait. It’s a SERIOUS violation of federal migratory waterfowl regulations.
Attracting waterfowl should be done in moderation. This may sound like side effects in a new drug ad, but be aware. Large numbers of ducks and geese contribute substantial waste to a pond. That waste acts like a fertilizer to stimulate vegetation growth. If not closely managed, especially in small lakes, it may cause water quality issues. Waterfowl may transplant vegetation. Don’t let me spoil the party, just monitor activity, especially with geese.
If you enjoy cutting-edge projects, follow the lead of a client in East Texas. He erected numerous wood duck boxes and equipped them with remote cameras. His family watches the entire nesting event on a monitor in the cabin. We can help acquire and install the boxes.