Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



First published and copyright © 1975 by Indiana University Press Revised electronic edition published 2010 by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries and copyright © 2010 by Paul A. Johnsgard. All rights reserved.


“We cannot expect to learn from or communicate directly with waterfowl; they speak separate languages, hear different voices, know other sensory worlds. They transcend our own perceptions, make mockery of our national boundaries, ignore our flyway concepts. They have their own innate maps, calendars, and compasses, each older and more remarkable than our own. We can only delight in their flying skills, marvel at their regular and precise movements across our continent, take example from their persistence in the face of repeated disaster. They are a microcosm of nature, of violent death and abundant rebirth, of untrammeled beauty and instinctive grace. We should be content to ask no more of them than that they simply exist, and we can hope for no more than that our children might know and enjoy them as we do.” —from Part I

Bird lovers and sportsmen will treasure and learn from every page of this information- packed, up-to-date, and lavishly illustrated volume, written by one of the world’s foremost authorities on waterfowl. Professional biologists, ornithologists, conservationists, and others concerned with the breeding and management of waterfowl will find it the most comprehensive and authoritative compendium of data in print for all of the nearly sixty species of ducks, geese, and swans known to breed in North America.

For each species the distribution (with range maps for all breeding species), weightsand measurements, information on identification in the hand and in the field, criteria for determining age and sex, and North American subspecies are given. Each species description also includes detailed accounts of preferred habitat, food, ecology, migratory movements, sociality, age at maturity, nest location, clutch size, incubation and fledging periods, pairing and flocking behavior, and copulatory, nesting, brooding, and postbreeding behavior. Preliminary chapters deal with migration and distribution patterns, hunting and recreational values, and an introduction to waterfowl biology in general.

Illustrated with over sixty detailed waterfowl line drawings, thirty-one color photographs, and ninety-six black and white photographs, this is the definitive work on its subject and a treasury of information for biologists, ornithologists, waterfowl hunters, and bird lovers.

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