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Thread: Duck Id thread idea?

  1. #1
    Member Limetrude's Avatar
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    Question Duck Id thread idea?

    Ok, I freely admit I am new to duck hunting, I am used to the "easy" stuff when it comes to identification ie: grouse and ptarmigan. After much looking around on this forum, I have found few photos with species name to match, but for the most part its just a picture of a lot of ducks.

    What I propose and think many would find HUGELY useful is to create a dedicated pair of threads - one for "Waterfowl Identification" and the other for "Identify this Duck for Me Please"

    The idea for the Waterfowl Identification thread would be to keep it as clean and accurate as possible - not making it a discussion forum but a series of posts where each posts subject would be the species and gender and a pic(s) attached: Obviously it goes without saying to post only good pictures that are very helpful in identifying the various species of ducks (geese and other big birdies could have their own thread perhaps?) This would be the thread that would have no "what is it" or "might be's" on it. I think it would be very helpful to note table-fare and easy id characteristics... Perhaps the moderators would help in keeping this thread accurate and free of chit-chat -- maybe even make it a sticky...

    Next - the "Identify this Duck for Me Please" would be an all out discussion thread for people (especially newbies) to post pics of their 'catch' or even a picture of a non-caught but interesting/unknown duck and ask for identification help. To keep it organized, each post with a picture should post as the first line in the message text a picture number (it should not be in the subject so we can edit our number if by accident we post the same number at the same time as another person.) These picture numbers would allow subsequent discussion to avoid confusion...

    I am more than happy to start these two threads if there is a voiced interest on this thread... however I am a major novice and have NO pictures to post (sorry) as I have only got 6 ducks thus far and none while packing a camera. I will however start the threads and post the "rules" for the Waterfowl Identification thread as the first post to help keep it clutter free.

    Any comments/suggestions/ or even ridicule?

    I am very open to ideas and want some buy in/(permission?) before I try to start something like this...

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    Member Waldo2382's Avatar
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    Well, the threads could be helpful if people are only limited to this forum for all of their information. I really suggest to people that are interested in hunting waterfowl to study one of the many bird identification books out there to see what kind of birds they may have shot. Yes, it is easier to "ground check" a bird after you shot it. But then immediately identify it. Luckily for ducks (not sea ducks) the limit is 8 of any species except canvasback where the limit is 1. If you study any duck, a canvasback should be it to be sure you are not over limit. Shoot it, make mental notes of the flying characteristics, colors, and sounds and don't shoot another canvasback.
    As for sea ducks, where you can't shoot more than 6 per day of any one species, be sure to take a note of each bird you shoot to make sure stop at 6 if you can't tell the difference.
    Then there are birds you can't shoot at all or in certain places such as spectacled eiders and Steller's eiders are closed statewide and swans are not available for harvesting everywhere. These are the pictures I dread to see. The DFG IS watching this site, trust me.
    I can see the report now on here, "So I was walking along the beach and these birds that I believe were ducks were sitting on the water and so I opened up and got 6 of these little critters by sluicing the," the picture then has 2 steller eiders, a puffin, 2 kittiwakes and a pigeon gullimot. Why that may be extreme, I don't want to see something bad happen nor does anyone else.
    While there are some odd ducks out there such as crossbreeds and color phases that are cool and may be hard to identify, I think the rarity of those don't deserve their own sticky.
    Like anyother game animal, I study the heck out it in books, TV magazines and the internet. Spend some time in the field at all times of the seasons and just bird watch. Potter's Marsh and Creamer's Field are great places to so that. Heck even just looking the channel in Kodiak in winter you'll see a lot of different ducks.
    Anyway that's just my $0.02. Funny, how if someone asks me for a spot to shoot ducks and geese I'll freely give information, but if someone walks up to me (which has happened in California) and asks me to identify his duck(s) so he doesn't look like a donkey when checking out of the refuge to fish and game, I grind my teeth, say a few things (not in a rude way about a few books he should check out at the library) and pick out the ducks that he should and shouldn't have.
    Sorry to be long winded, but for me it's a kind of a touchy subject because of some of the duck stringers I've seen.

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    I think if your asking what type of duck you shot , you probably shouldnt have shot it. You have to love being able to shot 10 ducks and not have to pick out 2 greenheads, 1 hen, 1 canvasback, etc. for your limit. I think if your gonna hunt you better know what your hunting, put in the time and research all the different ducks in alaska and learn how to identify them. Would you just go out and shoot a bull moose and then ask someone if it is 50" or larger, I dont think so.

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    Member Arctic Hunter's Avatar
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    Default Well...

    I think its a great idea.

    Honestly, I think most folks can ID ducks they shoot. Its for those novices like myself, who shoot very little and are as not as quick in ID'ing a duck thats coming in at 30 mph to ID before shooting. Personally I feel fairly confident I would be able to ID a drake of any sort before I shoot, its those hens that get me. AND with our birds not in full plumage this time of year, they are also definatley harder to identify. Heck, why am I worried about it anyways, I have yet to shoot a duck this season. And if and when I do, I'll be a lucky guy to get my limit.

    I have a planned sea duck/puddle duck hunt out on the Stikine River Delta in Late Nov/early Dec already lined up with a buddy in Petersburg. Hoping to get a few birds in before then.

    Andy
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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Default ducks at a distance

    ducks at a distance is one of the best hand books out there. It shows flock patterns in flight, some eclipse phase colors, bill colors and shapes as well as feet color and shape

    I have seen this book at Title Wave in the bird field guide section. The above link also tells you where you can buy a copy. The hard copy I have has bill ID as well as feet ID. You can download a electronic file from here, but it does not have the bills and feet ID. The book is comb bound and pocket sized, but not water proof paper

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    Member Limetrude's Avatar
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    Unhappy Hmmm, Interesting results

    Ok, I am starting to see a pattern here - Personally I think there is some over-reaction and it is probably largely based on my lack of clarification...

    I firmly believe in learning what NOT to shoot - anyone who has not identified those species and is out there blasting away at anything that swims or flies is a liability to all of us hunters and SHOULD have had the brains (unfortunately sometimes people are lacking in that department) not to go hunting if they don't know what is and is not legal.

    That is EXACTLY why I think it would be such a good idea to have at the very least a thread dedicated to Waterfowl Identification Throw in some pictures of the illegal to shoot species - obviously not dead - but at least then some people who are really trying to learn the ropes would be able to say "ah - theres a good picture of a Emperor Goose - so thats what I need to be careful not to shoot when I am shooting geese.... etc etc" -- much better than a huge field guide that has every duck in the world sketched rather poorly. I know ADF&G has a little card showing all of the species - I found it pretty much useless...

    On that note I saw a thread not long ago asking how to tell a 50-inch bull moose... thats the point of these forums (or so I thought) to learn and share information to help fellow outdoorsmen/women.

    Not to pick on anyone - but bowtech had a good point which I am not trying to contradict... "I think if your gonna hunt you better know what your hunting, put in the time and research all the different ducks in alaska and learn how to identify them. Would you just go out and shoot a bull moose and then ask someone if it is 50" or larger, I dont think so." I am just suggesting that the standard answer of this forum to newbie shooters not be "go get a book and research it"... why should we be reluctant to share the pictures and identification techniques? - obviously those who have been shooting ducks up here for years can identify most if not all on the fly,

    As was mentioned earlier - there are a limited number of duck species normally encountered up here (lets say 8 is correct for now) there are several different plumage states and both male and female colorings... thus it is still complicated and tough for a beginner... plus they have to learn the other species that have special limits or are just plain DONT SHOOT species. Why not have a thread with pics and names of at least the common species you find here in Alaska?

    I am going out on a limb here saying this, but I recently shot 2 ducks that I KNOW were legal (I am very very careful to figure out and actually take with me pictures of what the regs list as illegal) but I DON'T Know what species of "legal" duck they were. I KNOW they were not canvasbacks... but their plumage did not match any of the pictures I had rustled up before my trip of ducks here in alaska, nor could I identify them based on the crappy waterfowl guide I picked up a while ago...

    Most newbies would probably not bring back those awful and illegal stringers that Waldo2382 has seen if there was a nice easy reference here on the forums for typical Alaskan species.

    End result, maybe an identify this duck for me thread should be done only with pics of ducks that are alive and well to prevent anyone from having problems... but I think it would still be helpful to the novices to be able to get some help when they shoot something and it turns out not to be what they thought it was. Obviously if they shoot something thats illegal and posted it, THEY STILL BROKE THE LAW AND ITS STILL THEIR FAULT - ignorance is no excuse for lawlessness... I am not saying that the forum should be here as a "Look what I blasted, now what is it?" location, but it should be here to help new duck hunters when they get stumped with identifying something that EVERYONE ELSE KNOWS (ie something dumb like a mallard hen)... I also know for a FACT that I have seen plenty of people ask "what kind of fish is this?" Not a whole lot of difference if the fish is clearly dead... and I should say I too have seen some fish stringers that disgusted me-- all time worst was 10 lake trout because the guy thought he was catching char at this one lake... talk about a population hazard

    Anyhow - stupid people will be stupid, lets focus on helping people who are planning on going hunting ducks and or geese and want a nice set of pics to help them identify typical alaskan species...

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    Alright, Alright maybe I was a little harsh on my last reply. After thinking about it and hearing the idea rephrased it would be nice to post pictures of the ducks you shoot and also having identified that bird. Here is a helpful webpage. Enjoy
    http://www.ducks.org/hunting/waterfowlgallery.aspx

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    Member Waldo2382's Avatar
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    Ok, I guess I got a little carried away. I guess a photo album of ducks and their identifying characteristics could be had, especially the speculum on the wing, and the bill and foot colorations for early season ducks and hens. One thing this thread would miss is motion unless we get some good homemade movies on here. I'll try and take some photos the times I go duck hunting and take pictures of those things. Unfortunately I'm working through November 11th so no duck hunting until then.

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    Default I like the idea of an ID forum

    I have been carving decoys for 30 years and feel I have too much research materials. I still see ducks in ponds and marshes that baffle me. The scoter on the chena a couple weeks ago really had me scratching my head. There are ducks that come up the East coast of Russia from Japan/Korea areas that end up in the West of AK. Having a way to post a pic (hopefully of live birds) may be interesting for the rest of us to see something new or unique and try to figure out what it is. I'll admit hens in eclipse plummage are a real challenge.
    Thanks for bringing up the idea Limetrude.
    Interesting to see how the anti-hunters and lawyers in the group are so scared to post the pic of a "Legally Taken" duck. I hope you don't apologize for being hunters either. Kinda sad too.... The times we live in.

  11. #11
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tealer View Post
    Interesting to see how the anti-hunters and lawyers in the group are so scared to post the pic of a "Legally Taken" duck. (
    Please tell me who these people are? I don't see any person posting on this thread that meets this discription, or has stated that they were scared, an anti-hunter, or a lawyer.

    Folks have given some good advice on here about resources for Duck ID, but I don't see where anyone made a statement that would support this comment.

    When you are standing out on the Hay Flats at 7am and are looking at what you shot, how will a thread on here help you? You still have a dead duck in your hand and unless you have a smart phone or a crack berry the thread is useless. You can print out the photos and take them with you but what if you shoot something that no one has a photo of? What then?

    If there is a limit restriction like for canvas backs you need to be able to ID them while they are flying, not when they are dead in your hand. No field guide or internet thread is going to help you do this. Only being in the field and watching birds fly will you learn to ID ducks. There is no quick and easy solution for that one.

    The printed Ducks at a Distance is a great field guide and will resolve many questions about what bird you have taken. It is simple to use and covers every duck you will encounter in Alaska. It is also cheap to buy. I have used it to resolve an "argument" about hen blue bill vs hen golden eye. My hen golden eye opinion won thanks to having the guide in my pack.

    I do understand the need for hunters to know what they are shooting. Three days after the opener this year I was boating down wind to chase a cripple while hunting Leaf Lake. I thought I found the duck dead and belly up, and motored over to a grass clump. There was a loon dead and belly up with pellet holes through its head and neck. It appeared to have been water swatted due to the dammage from the neck up. Loons are not listed in the regulations as a spieces to be taken during the regular season. They are not listed in Ducks at a Distance. So they can not be shot. But some complete looser did and they left it out there to be found by anyone crusing by in their boat.

    I have several photos of dead early season birds to post up. But will that help a newby tell the difference between a mallard and a smiling mallard as the smiling mallard lands in the decoys at first light? Do you want to shoot a smilling mallard? Or more importantly do you want to eat a smiling mallard? Smiling mallard drakes will never go full Hollywood up here since they leave early. What in the name of Pete am I talking about?

  12. #12
    Member Limetrude's Avatar
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    Default Glad to see the change in heart

    I am glad to see the change in heart... (I am sure my original post had a lot to do with the confusion and misunderstanding so for that I do apologize... I re-read it today and saw how it could have been taken as a blast it first, figure it out later thread.)

    Anyhow, I felt it only right to thank Tealer (once again) and Bowtech and Waldo, I understand your concerns and appreciate your thinking it over and coming back and posting your revised take on the matter after I clarified.

    To respond to some of the points made by AK-Ray:

    I am currently looking at the regs for duckhunting in my general area (unit 20 & 25) and it lists "DUCKS" as 10 per day, 30 in posession with a caveat that only 1 per day and 3 in posession be canvasbacks. This does not include sea ducks which is a non issue to me but even if it were, there is a similar restriction except there is some matching that one must do. (ie 6 per day each of harlequin or long tailed etc... ) Thus why would I worry about identifying them immediately in the field? As long as you are careful not to shoot anything on the don't shoot list (much shorter list and much more obvious characteristics if you ask me) then you are fine. Hence why I think the forum would be very educational - no I am not taking a blackberry in the field to figure out what I shot as that would be silly and it really does not matter.

    Not all that difficult to tell what not to shoot or what not to shoot more than 1 of, especially with puddle ducks. So here is how I have been doing my first half dozen ducks... Since I am not shooting over decoys and am often pass-shooting there is not a whole lot of time to pick and choose, that will come with time and EXPERIENCE actually figuring out what I got. While the on the fly patterns are helpful, I need to see one close up to confirm my rather unconfident on the fly id.

    First, I make sure the duck is not actually a loon or brant/eider or a canvasback. (I am not that stupid so as to mistake a goose for a duck - thus I won't include them in what I check for) Next I decide if I have a good chance of killing it and not just crippling it...then I shoot - it does not matter to me what species I just shot.. I try to get 2 of whatever it was as long as it is not one of the above species... then I take them back to the truck/boat/home (whichever is closer) and compare them to my field guide which is usually less than helpful as I never seem to get a textbook example. Then I take some up-close pictures for later helping to id, clean them, pluck them, wax em, and try it roasted in an orange sauce.

    Thus far I have managed to identify (though a little hazy still) 2 ducks which were both mallard hens in non standard plumage I guess. My other ducks have fit into 2 categories "tasty" and "not as tasty" I now can identify them as such in the field before I even pull the trigger, but do I know what kind they are? Nope... Now if I had some good real world pictures to compare them to and see some good examples of various plumage phases, that would be immensely helpful - hence why I always try to take some pictures of what I shot (for later positive id).

    Now about this comment: If there is a limit restriction like for canvas backs you need to be able to ID them while they are flying, not when they are dead in your hand. No field guide or internet thread is going to help you do this. Only being in the field and watching birds fly will you learn to ID ducks. There is no quick and easy solution for that one. I am not really saying that this thread is a "quick and easy solution" nor am I disputing the need for field time, what I think I already conveyed though is that all the experience in the world is worth nothing if you don't have some set standards that you have to measure against. I could be a pro at judging range to targets, and as long as I knew how much to adjust my point of aim, I would never really need to know what a "yard" or a "foot" was. I could just go "that looks like its about three crosshair holdover away" -- this is similar to me being able to tell a tasty duck from a not as tasty duck on the fly -- I have some pretty lacking standards to measure against, and believe me, before I suggested this thread I scrounged around internet and decided it would be a NICE addition to the forums... Yes you can find this information elsewhere, but why not try to help some newbies from having to go through all that frustration and effort, it would be one more nice feature of the ODD?

    I was fishing with a guy this summer and he pointed to a loon and asked me what kind of duck it was --- those are the kind of people (often too lazy to dig on their own) who need to see as many pictures of loons and ducks on a forum (with names) as possible so they don't become the ones shooting a loon like the example that AKRAY gave.

    I had no idea this thread would see as much flak as it has - makes me wonder sometimes...

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    Default My apologies....

    One idea is during fishing season while your on the water take pics of summer plummage ducks. You see alot in the summer. It is a great time to hone your skills on ID'ing ducks. Post the pics ask the question and find out well before hunting season and trigger pulling time. Some ducks have distinct profiles on the water (divers vs puddlers) some have unigue speculums on the wing as they fly by (mallards white line at back, widgeon white shoulders etc). Duck hunting with a camera in one hand and a fishing pole in the other could be a challenge. It might add a different twist to your summer fishing trips as well.
    That may help you for next year. Limetrude during fishing season you were talking about Minto. Fantastic place to take pics because you'll see a bit of everything. Just a thought.

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    Limetrude,
    Very good post to get everyones ideas and thoughts on the pic thread. Books do help but what really needs to happen is you need to go with someone who knows ducks well or atleast better than yourself. I hunt with a guy who has been hunting waterfowl for almost 50 years now and can really tell a duck from a distance its amazing. Once you hook up with someone like that you learn things to look for and to identify the duck. I am by no means a expert and still some ducks baffle me. A hunting partner with knowledge is worth a million bucks and makes your hunting experience 100 times better. Hopefully next season we can link up and do some shooting....

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Default I gave out the wrong book info

    Quote Originally Posted by Limetrude View Post
    This does not include sea ducks which is a non issue to me but even if it were
    Limetrude, you have scoters up there so you do need to know some basic sea duck ID or you will have some more "not so tasty" eating. Actually I am told they are not too bad when taken early in the season. At sea it all depends on what species of shell fish they are eating.

    And the book in my pack is not Ducks at a Distance. Since I have not pulled out in three or four years I had forgotten it is actually LeMaster's Method for Waterfowl Identification. Hugely detailed and still pocket sized. It is printed by Stackpole Books and sold at a variety of places. This Google preview shows a few pages of what is in the book so that you can determine if it is useful for your needs.

    When I bought my copy from Tital Wave Books it was $4.95. It is worth more once you start using it.

  16. #16
    Member Limetrude's Avatar
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    Default Thanks to AK Ray

    Hey there AK Ray,


    Thanks for the book info - much much more detailed than the Ducks at a Distance!! I have been very disappointed with Ducks at a Distance but this seems to be the ticket. Perhaps I will give it a more fitting review once my copy comes in.

    Bowtech - I agree... next year we should log a few days of time together and see what we can round up... hopefully by then I will be a bit more up to speed since I will be playing ID the duck when out fishing...

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    Default Another reference

    I have tons of pictures from the decoy carvers forums. May be a source for good stuff. Le Masters has a book out of studies of each species. All kind of angles and positions. Here is a simple guide put by the US fish and fin folks.
    http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/b...dist/index.htm

    There may be some stuff in there that is useful, particularly the immature and eclipse plummage pics.

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