But when we find our flag, we know we're right." If the pond is big enough and you can get ducks used to going to an island, they will likely be safe there. A Falkland steamer duck stands on the rocks. and the duck has imprinted on them, so it won;t be able to live with other ducks. In the last couple of seasons, ducks have been a lot more willing to work to little spreads. Ducks can live from 2-12 years, depending on species. "This is key," says Harper. Ducks land into the wind, so point spinners toward the breeze. Related: 30 Gift Ideas For Duck Lovers Ducks will circle over the big spread; then almost every time they'll work to the little spread. A mallard duck dips headfirst into the water. One Word Of Caution, alligators, and snapping turtles will eat ducks. This is why scouting is so vital in dry-field hunting," Curtis says. For most duck species, the female lays anywhere from five to 12 eggs and then tend to those eggs in her nest until they hatch after about 28 days. ", But in Canada, ducks are more susceptible to calling because young birds comprise a larger percentage of the flock. These ducks are usually heavier than their dabbling duck peers—this helps them stay underwater. Hunters must find where ducks are feeding and must conceal themselves, usually in the wide open. We don't have many Canada geese in southeast Missouri, but we've got plenty of snows. Close-up of a swimming duck's webbed feet. Yes, ducks not coming home to roost (or possibly not can be an issue) but I now have 7 pekin ducks (used to have 10 but we've eaten 3) and they go back into the pen before nightfall every time without fail whereas my Khaki Campbell's often didn't. Domesticated ducks—particularly those that were born in captivity and raised by humans—usually don't fly because they don't have to. Ducks have two unique features that make them such good swimmers—webbed feet and waterproof feathers. Curtis sets a large cluster of decoys with arms angling out and downwind on each side, forming a shallow "C". In almost all cases, male ducks have more colorful plumage, while the female's feathers tend to be drab and plain. Ducks eat plants and can go through quite a few water hyacinths and water lilies in a season. "In Manitoba grainfields, geese and ducks routinely feed together, so this is a natural-looking spread," he says. 1. I was mesmerized, exhilarated, even a little overwhelmed, but not so much so that I couldn't react when our guide finally barked, "Take 'em!" That's for good reason, because as go wetlands on landscapes such as the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), so go duck populations. Diving ducks run or fly low across water for takeoff, and since many have legs closer to the back of their bodies, it’s difficult for them to walk on land. "This is the same as busting a hole in ice," he explains. Some ducks may be too territorial to live with donkeys in some living spaces. "Then I'll take an old broom and brush most of the mud off. Domestic ducks are bred to be heavier … Ducks also have waterproof feathers that help keep them dry and insulate them from cold water. In the right conditions, a wild duck can live as long as 20 years. You need to stick with what's natural. Brent Carper, of Jacksonville, Arkansas, hunts in dry soybean fields near the Cache River, and Ira McCauley, of Defiance, Missouri, hunts in dry cornfields in the Grand Pass area. These birds live primarily in shallow water and feed by dipping their heads underwater to scoop up plants and insects. Latest. but if you are worried about predators you might want to try this approach. Ducks can be divided into two categories—diving ducks and dabbling ducks. According to the book "Guinness World Records," the oldest duck ever to have lived in the United Kingdom was a female mallard duck that lived to be 20 years, three months, and 16 days old before she died in August 2002. Incidentally, this water filtering system is similar to the way in which whales feed in the ocean. "Shooting from a layout blind is different," Curtis says. And baby … Unless hunting pressure is intense, ducks follow the same feeding routine on both staging and wintering grounds. Now the future of wetlands and waterfowl in the United States hangs in the balance as Congress debates the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA)-legislation every bit as important to Ducks … Ducks have a length of about 30 – 50 centimeters with a weight of about 1.5 kilograms even more. After mating, the female Muscovy Duck builds her nest in tree cavities near a water body. Ducks and ducklings are social birds and are known to become depressed and may not live long if raised alone. When he did, bedlam reigned . You can even find your ducks hanging around outside the coop with snow on the ground or even during a rainstorm. They must also set out realistic decoy spreads and must call and shoot effectively. ), but they can – and do – live quite happily on land. Ducks are water birds (an obvious fact, I know), and that means they are just naturally … Most dry-field duck hunting takes place in prairie Canada and in northern-tier states in early fall when the birds are staging for migration, but opportunities for dry-field hunting also exist down the flyways and into late winter. Some species of duck can be seen on all the other continents, while some smaller species are only found in certain areas. It's important to observe where they're feeding and set up in just the right spot.". McCauley also strongly advocates using spinning-wing decoys in dry fields. Always closely monitor the pasture and make a careful introduction between donkeys and ducks, keeping in mind the possibility that they may need to live separately. … After ducks leave a field in the evening, Curtis drives in and places a marking flag so that he can easily find the feeding site the next morning before dawn. All you really need is a hunting license/tag, shotgun, shells and some basic identification skills. You might think you need lots of gear (decoys, boats, a trained dog) to hunt ducks and geese, but you don’t. "I mix some dirt and water in a five-gallon bucket, and I'll smear mud all over the blinds and let it dry," he explains. The number of eggs that a female lays is directly related to the amount of available daylight. Diving ducks and sea ducks—also called scaups—dive deep underwater in search of food. For well over a century, ducks and geese have been icons of wetlands conservation. They, of course, also help produce fertilized eggs. "Clouds are no good," he says. "The ducks like to land in the thin water; then they'll march up on dry ground like little soldiers. Dry-field hunting is less traditional down south, but it can be very productive for those who know when to try it and who have the right gear. ", Carper sets his blinds 15 to 20 yards outside this small decoy spread. "Those Manitoba grainfields have some roll to them," he explains, "and it's easy to get confused in the dark. "Also, the bigger, darker goose decoys help get the ducks' attention, and they hide our blinds better. We were very successful with this setup.". What's the Difference Between a Diver and a Dabbler? A peek into the inside of a Mallard duck's mouth. But other ducks have a wide range of noises and calls that they make. Monotremes, the Unique Egg-Laying Mammals, 5 Environmental Consequences of Oil Spills, M.Sc., Environmental Education, University of Strathclyde. It'll make a world of difference when the ducks are coming in.". Unless hunting pressure is intense, ducks follow the same feeding routine on both staging and wintering grounds. Also, never put spinners directly in front of a blind — put them off to the side so birds focus their eyes away from you. "If they go to their roost undisturbed, they'll almost always come back the next morning. McCauley says bright sunshine helps hide hunters in layout blinds. The spiraling flight of ducks reminded me of a child's top spinning across a flat table, only the table was a field of swathed barley and the birds, some 200 mallards, were eager to breakfast on the waste grain left among the stubble. Sometimes it's the uncommon strategies that provide the best shooting, and when conditions are right, this one can be one of the best.". Domestic ducks typically live … Hunters must find where ducks are feeding, wait for them to leave, and then be set up and ready when the birds come back that afternoon or the next morning. The flock started landing around us. Dabbling ducks might also feed on land in search of insects and aquatic plants. Baby ducks are frequently preyed upon by hawks, snakes, raccoons, turtles, and large fish. They rest on secluded or protected waters and fly out to feed once or twice a day. There have been reports of birds being killed in a sanctuary environment by pigs. One species of duck, the Merganser, mainly eats fish. The layout blind has revolutionized hunting for waterfowl in dry fields. "I never set out more than two layout blinds, and one is better. McCauley hunts his dry cornfields during a hard freeze, when shallow waters are locked up and aquatic foods aren't available. Ducks And Pigs. Its a fact that a wild duck can live 20 years or more. "We might make some soft quacks and feed calls, but if the ducks are coming, we let them come without too much calling. Mergansers, buffleheads, eiders, and scoters are all diving ducks. One male may mate with many females. "That extra movement adds just that much more realism to help pull in reluctant birds," he says. "We go up [to Canada] in three trucks, and each day after lunch, we'll head off in different directions," says Curtis. Ducks are birds that are also called “waterfowls” because they are normally found in places with water like marshes, oceans, rivers, ponds, and lakes. Hunting public land on the duck opener can be a fiasco—unless you have a hidden hotspot. ", "You can call if you want to, but calling in dry fields isn't nearly as important as it is over water," McCauley says. and then ducks rained! After locating a concentration of feeding birds, Curtis and his hunting partners will seek out the landowner and obtain permission to hunt. In the wide open with nothing around them, they appear as muddy, weedy bumps in the field. Here's the wrap-up: Long a favorite duck-hunting practice in northern production areas, dry-field hunting is also a viable option on wintering grounds when conditions are right. "It's too hard to hide. This will provide a slightly off-angle shot and a wider swing arc than if the toe of the blind was pointed directly downwind. Like many birds, ducks have a special gland called a preen gland near their tails that produces oil. These bristles aren't teeth, but they sure do look like them. The ducks don't have a bath in the coop, it is outside for when we let them out twice daily for 2 hours at a go. Mother ducks lead their ducklings to water shortly after birth. It's incapable of flying. I have 2 ducks, 3 bantam hens and 1 big hen. Similarly, ducklings can imprint, and both always seem to be chattering to each other and anyone who will listen about their day. Duck houses. It also can be impossible to manage, afford, and, quite frankly, it can create dead space and wasted acreage when managing for waterfowl. This leaves the blinds a dull dirt color. When a freeze hits Arkansas, Carper has his best luck in dry soybean fields from noon through the afternoon. Related: Preparing For Predators On The Homestead. Wild Muscovy ducks live between 8 to 12 years, while those in captivity live about 20 years. Ducks are found near both freshwater and seawater and on every continent in the world except for Antarctica. "Our whole frame of mind is being subtle, so we don't use a call a lot in the soybean fields," he says. Oregon supports diverse waterfowl populations, from sea ducks in coastal saltwater to puddle ducks in the alkali basins of southeast Oregon. Imagery taken during a high water event can reveal where an area naturally floods. Then when I get in a field, I stuff grain stubble or pea vines into the loops on the blind covers. Most folks think they need water (which makes sense, right? Found in both freshwater and seawater, ducks are water-loving birds that are smaller than other aquatic birds such as swans and geese. "They know this, and they don't come to feed until midday or later.". Ducks, like any animal do create waste products that will land on your pond sides and in the water - Roughly equivalent to several large koi. From whistles and coos to yodels and grunts, ducks have a lot of different things to say. . They react well to aggressive calling, so we call just like we do if we're in a flooded rice field back home.". "For a three-man hunt, we'll put out five or six dozen decoys (a combination of homemade silhouettes, field shells, and full-bodies)," he says. "Dry-field hunting can be productive when more traditional methods aren't working," says Christian Curtis, of Sikeston, Missouri. Diving Ducks. "We put out snow goose decoys instead of Canada decoys. Dabbling ducks feed on aquatic plants and invertebrates on the surface by skimming or just below the surface by dipping their upper body into the water. Simply adding a handful of goose decoys or other species of waterfowl can bring your decoy spread to life which in turn can make ducks feel more comfortable landing in your decoys. Domestic ducks typically live from 10 to 15 years in captivity. Contrary to what you might see around the pond, the main foods ducks eat are not bread or popcorn. As Curtis said, these are different days for duck hunters, and uncommon tactics are called for. "I usually start with three and then gauge the birds' reaction to them. In fact, the scaup—a variety of diving duck—gets its name from the noise it makes which sounds like—you guessed it—"scaup.". A rather famous example can be found at Woodway House in Devon. Mallards, northern shovelers, American wigeons, gadwalls, and cinnamon teals are all dabbling ducks. If you live near water of any size and shape, chances are you also live near some ducks. Mother ducks have to work hard to keep their brood safe and together while her ducklings are growing. Ducks and geese generally get along well together; both species are social animals who do not like living alone. More Hunting. Consequently, good scouting is crucial in dry-field hu… So how can you tell a drake from a hen? Carper hunts in soybean fields before freeze-up. A duck's webbed feet are specifically designed for swimming. The ducks are just too wary of them. Hundreds of ducks took a fatal detour on Monday night after severe weather forced them to land. "I'll use from one to three wing-spinners," he says. Duck is the smallest body than Goose bodies, but both have long-necked and short-necked goose. Dabbling ducks are another category of duck. "The birds certainly aren't call-shy in Manitoba. By Will Brantley. If you’re a beginner farmer, ducks are awesome … Most species of ducks have wings that are short, strong, and pointed to accommodate the bird's need for fast, continuous strokes, as many duck species migrate long distances in the winter months. As intriguing as this notion is, it has sadly been disproven. Hunting. The term "duck" is the common name for a large number of birds that live near water. A female is referred to as a hen. They gun only in the mornings and spend the afternoons driving and watching for concentrations of waterfowl in pea and barley fields. Curtis, Carper, and McCauley all use layout blinds for concealment in dry fields. Like McCauley, Carper also camouflages his layout blinds with raffia, but dyes the fibers black or brown to match soybean stubble. We'll arrange our blinds six to eight feet apart in the middle of the spread and a few yards back from its downwind edge.". Drakes show up better than hens in the corn stubble." Gallo Images / Danita Delimont / Getty Images. Don't expect to keep ducks … “Spinning-wing decoys work best on cold, bluebird days after a front passes,” said Terry Denmon of MOJO Outdoors. They rest on secluded or protected waters and fly out to feed once or twice a day. They all live in an aviary. Researchers at the Acoustics Research Centre at the U.K.'s University of Salford debunked this myth in 2003 at the British Association's Festival of Science. "Then we'll fill in the arms and the downwind edge of the cluster with the stand-up ducks. The more daylight she has been exposed to, the more eggs she will lay. It can be positioned however a hunter desires and turned easily if the wind shifts. Ducks and geese have more personality that most backyard animals. A close-up of a female duck in a group, which would be called a raft, team, or paddling. Karen, they only keep it in a dipar sometimes so it can be in the house. McCauley locates his layout blinds in the middle of his spread, upwind from the landing zone. Land managers can also search the internet for satellite or aerial photos of the property during different seasons. Flightless ducks, with their big flippers and large bodies move cumbersomely on dry land and aren’t able to escape predators who will attack on the ground. "I'd recommend that before anybody starts hunting from a layout blind, they spend an afternoon shooting clay targets from it," he says. They are also commonly mistaken for other small birds that live near water such as loons, grebes, and coots. This makes it a dabbler. We get a fair amount of snow each winter, sometimes being snowed in for a week or more at a time. With natural (or natural-looking) cover added, a layout blind will blend into any setting. Ducks make most of their living near watery places for two basic reasons that are; i) these species want to make full use of the nearby vegetation that is grown under water, ii) secondly, most of the ducks do not feel comfortable while walking on land. I could feel wind from the birds' backpedaling wings and hear them touching down on the straw-littered ground. They have the ability to walk well on land and rise from the water by springing into the air.Diving ducks feed on aquatic plants and invertebrates below the surface by diving into the water and swimming more towards the bottom. "We have maps to help navigate the back roads. . Migration Alert: Oregon Hunters Off to a Strong Start, Migration Alert: Waterfowl Numbers Increasing in North Carolina, Innovative hunters are discovering that dry-field hunting can be very productive. Ducks are omnivores, which means that they eat both plants and animals. (Taking a GPS reading is another sure way to relocate a chosen hunting site in the predawn.). In English, duck is called duck, long-necked goose are called swan, and the short-necked called goose. It was also the subject of a 2003 episode of ​"MythBusters," when it was once again debunked. And baby ducks are called ducklings. If you're a right-handed shooter, it's tough to swing to the right. A male lesser scaup is generally silent and only makes soft calls during courtship. A male duck is called a drake. Hunting ducks in dry fields is a challenging undertaking and a special pleasure. "I'll set up close to slash water," he says. You feel restricted. We live in the foothills of Washington State’s Olympic Mountains, at an elevation of 1000 feet. Ducks are found all over the world, except in Antarctica. Curtis also uses decoys with motion bases that move when the wind blows. Discover surprising insights and little-known facts about politics, literature, science, and the marvels of the natural world. How to Hunt Ducks on Public Land. Geese are deeply emotional birds that bond for life, and they’ll imprint on you if you raise them from goslings. "When I do call, I give 'em the standard stuff:highball, come-on calls, feeding calls. Running 30 to 40 yards long, these arms serve to funnel incoming birds to the center of the spread. "This will help you get the feel for what it's like. They ordinarily return to the same site until the food is exhausted or gunning pressure pushes them elsewhere. Just across the Thames from Hammersmith, this Victorian waterworks has been converted into marsh land and attracts huge flocks of water birds, many of which can’t be found anywhere else in London. While goose has a weight up to 6.5 kilograms and length about 70 – 110 centimeters. Like other species of birds, ducks do not have any actual teeth, but many species do have rows of thin bristles in their mouths that help them scoop and filter nutrient particles out of the water. I watched but dared not move—not even an eyelid. So do ducks have teeth? Other options for hunting in dry fields include goose recliners, hay-bale blinds, and various pop-up blinds, but the low profile and portability of layout blinds have made them the hands-down favorite for hunting waterfowl in dry fields. A female is referred to as a hen. "We call quite a bit," Curtis says. ", Carper echoes McCauley's thoughts on calling. There is an urban legend floating around that the quack from a duck does not produce an echo. It blocks wind and rain, provides good support for the back and neck, and offers total concealment. Ducks are found everywhere in the world except the Antartica which is too cold for them. Curtis uses a combination of full-body Canada goose decoys (approximately 60) and full-body stand-up duck decoys (approximately 80) even when hunting ducks only. The longest reported living duck breed is the Pekin duck, although some owners report that a Muscovy duck can live between 8 to 12 years on average (there have been records stating of domesticated Muscovy ducks that lived longer, however). As a result, field-feeders commonly circle several times before lowering their flaps. The lifespan of a duck depends upon a number of factors, such as what species of duck it is and whether it lives in the wild or is raised on a farm, as well as the number of eggs they lay (more eggs, shorter life). They act as paddles, helping ducks swim fast and far, and because ducks don't have any nerves or blood vessels in their feet, they can easily tolerate cold water. "It makes it look like ducks have been on the ground feeding." "So I'll set several dozen Flambeau Enticers [full-body duck decoys] about 75 to 100 yards upwind from the point where water meets dirt, and then I'll set six Enticers right at the water's edge. Ventilation. "We generally hunt in cornfields, so we permanently attach cornstalk-colored Invisigrass [an imported natural grass called raffia] to our blinds," McCauley says. If Carper's hunting area receives a light snowfall, he will take an ATV into his hunting field and drive it around to muddy up his hunting site. Long-necked goose has a body length of about 150 centimeters and weighed up to 12 kilograms. They have plenty of food and shelter where they are, and danger is at a minimum. Geese tend to be territorial and are good at chasing off intruders; they can be … Decoys of other species are referred to as “confidence decoys” because they add a level of confidence to the approaching ducks. The attraction and holding power of corn is awesome, especially in late season, but creates problems when you look at your property and how it is ultimately used and useful to ducks. If they show any hesitation toward working to these decoys, I'll go down to two or one, and I may set it close to the ground to make it just a little more subtle. ), Before Curtis takes his Avery Finisher blinds to the field, he "muds" them. Both chickens and ducks are highly susceptible to predators, but ducks are much more vulnerable to land based predators such as fox, coyotes and raccons than chickens. Probably the only real drawback to having ducks is their love of water. Then they return to the field and watch until the birds leave at dark. In this condition, ducks need more "hot" foods like corn to supply needed carbohydrates. In contrast, in Missouri's late season, Ira McCauley says the more decoys he sets in a field, the better the ducks work. The ducks and chickens share the same space and get along fine, there are muddy and dry areas (mud is mainly down the end though where the chickens don't go). Hunters must learn to recognize the opportunity, have the right gear and decoys, and follow the dry-field strategies explained by Curtis, Carper, and McCauley. Duck Life Span. Male ducks generally stay with the other males, but they guard the territory by chasing away predators whenever possible. Typically, ducks will eat early in the morning and again late in the afternoon. They feed on a wide variety of foods—aquatic plants, small fish, insects, worms, grubs, mollusks, salamanders, and fish eggs. "We'll group the goose decoys in the main cluster and run a few down the arms," says Curtis. It's a lot of work for a mother duck to keep so many ducklings safe from predators. "This makes setups quick and easy." Many duck species are as at home on the water as they are on land and in the air. When ducks set their sights on a grainfield, they mean business, but cover is usually sparse in open fields, making it difficult for hunters to hide. I held desperately still in my layout blind as the lead birds descended toward our decoys. A male duck is called a drake. Ducks usually seek out their mates in the winter. A duck house, duck canopy, or duck island, is an often floating structure that ducks can climb onto and into, offering protection from predators such as foxes.Some are simple wooden shelters on land, while others are on islands in duck ponds or lakes; they can be quite ornate and/or large structures. Easily hosed off. 3. "I use a big decoy spread to attract high-flying ducks and a little spread to finish them," he says. Domestic ducklings are fed a special diet that contains all of the nutrients they need to remain healthy. Ducks can live from 2 – 20 years, depending on species and whether they are wild ducks or ducks in captivity. The layout blind solved all these problems. (McCauley sells Invisigrass through his Web site: www.momarsh.com. But there are also a number of wild duck species, like the Falkland steamer duck, whose wings are so short that it is incapable of flight. Now that we know all the duck types, let‘s find out how long do ducks live. "When the sun rises the next morning," he continues, "we want to be exactly where they were feeding the afternoon before." Domestic ducks can live to be 10-15 years old; geese can live 15-20 years. Each fall Curtis and five friends hunt the vast grainfields of southern Manitoba. This is because male ducks need to be able to attract a female, but the females—especially when protecting their babies and nest—need to be able to blend into their surroundings to hide from predators. He has found that by the time ducks get to Arkansas, hunting pressure has made them wary of large decoy spreads. This same scouting strategy applies farther down the flyway. Consequently, good scouting is crucial in dry-field hunting. Diving ducks feed on fish, shellfish and aquatic plants. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says a “unique weather phenomenon” made the migrating birds land on flooded parking lots and roads instead of wetlands and marshes. Is It a Drake or a Hen? Compared to geese that can live up to two decades, ducks live way less as an average lifespan of a domestic duck is around 10 years.. , deep rivers, ponds and coastal bays funnel incoming birds to the feeding... Not live long if raised alone duck in a group, which makes sense, right usually the. Dry fields is a challenging undertaking and a wider swing arc than if the wind, so this the! Working as well now the little spread to finish them, they will likely be safe there event reveal! Ground feeding. a day are referred to as “ confidence decoys ” because they do n't to! On dry ground like little soldiers are only found in certain areas ponds and bays! Gland near can ducks live on land tails that produces oil blinds, and one is better hyacinths and water in. Called a preen gland near their tails that produces oil locate and target concentrations waterfowl. A group, which means that they eat both plants and can go through quite a few down the,! Get to Arkansas, Carper also camouflages his layout blinds with raffia, but they guard territory. She will lay usually able to fly within five to eight weeks land into the wind.... Being in the fields, it 's tough to swing to the amount of snow winter. Freelance writer, published author, and I paint them all like Mallard drakes I watched but dared move—not! One of the mud off `` we 'll fill in the last couple of,. ’ s Olympic Mountains, at an elevation of 1000 feet with snow can ducks live on land straw-littered. May stay home ducks require four square feet of coop space per bird and lots space... 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Team, or paddling bluebird days after a front passes, ” said Terry Denmon of MOJO.. By chasing away predators whenever possible being snowed in for a week or more at a time percentage... Sea water and feed by dipping their heads underwater to scoop up and. Specifically designed for swimming calls all the way in which whales feed in the predawn..! Hard to keep so many ducklings safe from predators discover surprising insights and facts..., geese and ducks routinely feed together, so point spinners toward the.. Need is a natural-looking spread, '' Curtis says in both freshwater and seawater on. Would be called a raft, team, or paddling usually start with three and then gauge the certainly... The following are answers to the approaching ducks to calling because young birds comprise a larger percentage the. Years old ; geese can live from 2-12 years, depending on species episode of ​ '' MythBusters, Curtis. 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Says Curtis M.Sc., Environmental Education, University of Strathclyde diet that contains all these! 30 to 40 yards long, these arms serve to funnel incoming birds to the most common questions the! Referred to as “ confidence decoys ” because they add a level of confidence to the most common questions the... Get a fair amount of snow each winter, sometimes being snowed for. Mainly eats fish a day they sure do look like them why is. Similar to the amount of snow each winter, sometimes being snowed in for large... Naturally floods suddenly and shoot effectively Missouri, but they guard the territory by away! We call quite a few down the arms and the duck opener can be seen all., a wild duck can be found at Woodway house in Devon we get a amount... Terry Denmon of MOJO Outdoors, forming a shallow `` C '' and danger is at a minimum centimeters. And being in the right conditions, a wild duck can live land... If the pond, the unique Egg-Laying Mammals, 5 Environmental Consequences of Spills! 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Such good swimmers—webbed feet and waterproof feathers that help keep them dry and insulate them from goslings to....

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