Tag Archives: citizen-science

Duck Duck Goose

The ducks and geese have paired up for the spring, and you know that this means! Goose attacks are going to be pretty likely. Don’t get Tyrannosaurus rek’d by a goose. They can be very aggressive, especially when nesting.

goslings

If you can see these, the parents aren’t far behind…

An adult goose can weigh 15 lbs, so be careful.

As for the ducks, here’s a fun experiment to try. Go look at some mallard ducks. You can find them in parks with ponds, or other places near water. Usually, the males have green heads. Compare the number of males (drakes) to the females (ducks). Notice anything unusual? I’ll hide what you’ll probably find out in this bracket, in white text. Click and drag between the brackets to reveal the spoilers. [ There will probably be more drakes than ducks, by a pretty large margin. ] Weird, huh. Why do you think that is? Click and drag for the answer.

[ Females sit on the nest and are more vulnerable to predators, which probably leads to to the sex imbalance. Birds have a similar sex determination system to us mammals, so you can assume that there’s an even number of male and female ducklings hatched. ]

And that’s not all the duck weirdness going on. If you saw the ducks at just the right time, in mid-summer, you might not have noticed any drakes at all. Ducks moult completely, losing all their feathers, and, while they grow back in, they’re flightless, and very shy. Right after this, and before growing in their breeding plumage for the fall, the drakes’ feathers come in looking just like a duck. This brief, non-breeding plumage is called eclipse plumage. The only way to tell while the males are in eclipse is that male mallard ducks’ bills are yellowy or olive, not orange-y black.

drake/duck pair

This is a drake/duck pair of ducks. The drake is the one with the green head.

drake in eclipse

This is actually a drake mallard, disguised as a ladytypes duck, which are supposed to be camouflaged against predators anyway.

If you want to take your bird-observing to the next level, check out the Bird Guide from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Or, check out a handy, portable, and comprehensive identification key from the library. Ducks are really odd, actually. If you want to do more than dabble in a different sort of dabblers, read this book for a deep dive into the wood ducks, the most fabulous of all ducks. Ducks and geese hatch ready to follow the parents around, and start life out with a leap from the nest. Watch hooded merganser ducklings take the plunge.

Happy duck-watching!

Bored? Help People Right NOW

You just don’t know what to do right now, and you have a few minutes to kill? Help somebody out! Here’s some great citizen-science and crowdsourcing projects that you don’t want to miss.

Louisville Leader Transcription Project

Can you read? Can you type what you read? Help the University of Louisville digitize and make machine-readable and searchable its Louisville Leader articles. Read the instructions, and transcribe articles for U of L so that people can use a database to search the contents. You can help make this historic community newspaper accessible to historians and everyone! This project includes everything from wedding announcements to sports reporting. I saw an article just the other day about a Central High School basketball game.

zooniverse.org

This is a platform for helping scientists crowdsource citizen participation in research. Everything from counting birds to sorting drawings to looking for space dust. One-stop shopping for a huge array of citizen-science initiatives.

Building Inspector for NYPL

The New York Public Library wants to make a digital time machine out of their maps. You can help them by playing a series of games that input data while exploring old maps of New York City. Protip: there were drug stores across from drug stores, in the 1850s. I can only conclude everybody was sick literally all the time.

These projects are more than just fun–they make resources available to researchers and the public and help advance our knowledge in history and science!

– Katherine, Young Adult Services, Highlands-Shelby Park Branch