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Tel: (310) 374-3000
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Fascinating Facts about Water Birds Scramble Squares®
Lakes, marshes and rivers provide ideal environments for bird life. A large amount of shoreline, relatively shallow water and the growth of ample vegetation in and around the water support an abundance of bird species. There are 140 species of the Anatidae family of swimming and diving birds throughout the world, and fossil records dating back fifty million years to Cenozoic times show that many more species existed and have become extinct.

Water bird young are hatched in relatively advanced development, when compared to other birds. Young water birds hatch with their eyes wide open and their bodies covered with down to better maintain their body temperatures in cold water, and they can feed themselves within hours of being hatched. To keep dry, water birds have large glands that secrete an oil which the birds spread over their feathers with their bills and their feet. Water birds have heavier and stronger bones than other types of birds in order to withstand water pressure while swimming, dabbling and diving for food. They have relatively short legs and their toes are webbed for propelling themselves efficiently through the water. Water birds remain together as a brood between their hatching and taking their first flight, called “fledging.” Bill shapes of water birds vary widely among species to adapt to their various methods of feeding.

Mallards are surface feeding ducks that do not dive for food, but rather they “dabble,” tipping their bodies so that their heads go under water and their tails bob up as they forage for aquatic vegetation and animals. They prefer shallow, still, fresh water, but can be found in some coastal saltwater lagoons throughout the Northern Hemisphere from Eurasia to North America. Mallards are the most common species of duck found in North America. They are easily recognized by the male’s iridescent green head and white ring around its neck.

The Canada Goose can be found only in North America and Greenland. They live on lakes, bays, marshes, coastal plains and the grassy tundra of the upper Northern Hemisphere. The Canada Goose grows to 21 to 39 inches (55 –100 cm) and from 8 to 14 pounds (3.6 – 6.4 kg). Flocks of Canada Geese can number 50,000 birds!

The brilliantly colored Wood Duck is a “perching duck,” because it perches in a tree cavity lined with down to make its nest, sometimes moving into a vacated woodpecker nest. Wood Ducks live in forested areas throughout North America and are close relatives of the Mandarin Duck of China. Because Wood Ducks make their homes in the branches of trees, they prefer secluded freshwater ponds and rivers in heavily wooded areas, where they feed mainly on various grasses.

Loons are diving birds, whose legs are located far back on their bodies, enabling them to use their large webbed feet as highly effective propellers to pursue even the fastest fish in depths of up to 200 feet (60 m), often staying submerged for several minutes and traveling as much as one hundred yards or more. The loon’s physique, while perfect for deep, long dives, is a severe disadvantage on land, where it scoots along like a seal and has great difficulty taking flight. The Common Loon nests right next to the water of the deep lakes and rivers of Canada and in the northernmost United States, where the water is so cold that it can be harmful to Loon chicks, who often protect themselves from the cold and underwater predators by hitching rides on their parents’ backs. These shy birds can often be heard emitting their long, shrill howls as they run across the water, frantically flapping their wings in their struggle to take flight.

b.dazzle inc. · 500 Meyer Lane · Redondo Beach, CA 90278, U.S.A.
Tel: (310) 374-3000 · Fax: (310) 318-6692 · E Mail: info@b-dazzle.com
 

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