satellite view from PMNM
E komo mai; welcome! Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is surrounded by a lei of foam in the middle of the North Pacific; it's a beautiful, special place.

Not only are there albatross on Midway, but many other interesting kinds of wildlife, both on the land and in the sea. Please enjoy exploring FOAM, an educational blog actively done while on Midway from May through August 2010. Posts are added from off-Midway, as information becomes available. If you're interested in a particular topic, please use the search box or the alphabetical list of "labels" along the left side of the blog page.

ACTIVITY: Laysan Ducks #2 -- Who's Who?

Let's imagine you're on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, and your job is to identify which Laysan Ducks (LADU) are at which seeps.  If you've already done ACTIVITY: Laysan Ducks #1 -- Bands, you're almost ready to get started!  But first, can you see the difference between the duck on the left and the one below, on the right? 
The LEFT DUCK is a female because it has:
  • a pinkish bill and 
  • legs that are not very orange. 
  • This particular female has bands on both legs.  
DUCK is a male because it has:
  • a bluish bill and
  • bright orange legs.
  • This male doesn't have any bands at all.  We can't learn anything about the male duck.  Since he has no bands, there's no way of looking him up in the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge's Laysan Duck data base.  There's no way of recognizing him again.  If we see a male duck, we can't say it's him or another male. 
But the female duck has bands, with her own special text on them.  If we are able to see the text through binoculars, we can look up her band text in the data base, and find out more information about her.  And when we see a female duck with the same band, we'll know it's her!  We can see how she moves from seep to seep around the Refuge.

Let's pretend you're doing a survey of LADU at Radar Hill #1 seep shown here.  (When Midway was a Naval Air Facility before it became a Refuge, there was a radar station on the hill behind the current seep.)  Make a data table like the one below.  In the first column write down the abbreviation for your seep, RH1.  Now, pretend you're walking slowly up to the seep; try not to disturb the ducks.  Look at them carefully.  If you were really doing this, you'd look at the ducks through binoculars (see a picture of my binoculars at the bottom of this page.) 
Write down each duck's band using the code you learned in the ACTIVITY: Laysan Ducks #1 -- Bands.  If the band is on the R Leg (right leg), write its text in the R Leg column.  Same thing for L Leg.  Also try and write down M for male or F for female for each duck.  If you're not sure which it is, you can write "unk" for unknown.
For example, if I were looking at the first duck below I'd say to myself, "female, L Leg, blue "J."  Then I'd write down the following:
  • R Leg column = "Al," for the metallic aluminum band that's on that leg
  • L Leg column = BJ
  • Al # = I'd just put a -- here, because even with binoculars I can't see the number.
  • Sex = F, for female
  • Comments and/or Behavior = I wouldn't have anything to record for this duck.
Good luck; enjoy trying to figure out who's who!  When you think you've identified all the ducks, check yourself using the July 11 FOAM post called Answers for "ACTIVITY: Laysan Ducks #2 -- Who's Who."

Oops!  We can't get this duck's band text because it's napping, with his bill resting on his back.  We know the duck is a male because of his bright orange left leg...but the right leg must have the permanent plastic band and it's tucked up in his feathers.  (Can you see the pinkish bills of the two females in the background?)

I guess this is a comfortable way for ducks to nap.  Would you like to nap this way?  Not me!

We'll walk slowly away and not disturb him.  Remember: these Laysan Ducks are the rarest ducks in the whole United States!  Let's take care of them; sweet dreams, LADU!