Copyright 1986, 75 pages, spiral bound, color photos and illustrations
Dick Lemaster's observations of the size and shape of duck bills provide and entirely new tool for recognizing species. Dick is an unusually gifted person who has given up a lucrative business in industrial model building to further his first love, waterfowl. His talent and enthusiasm as a display decoy carver resulted in his first book Wildlife in Wood. His experience in preserving the living qualities of ducks in wood has given Dick knowledge of form, feather arrangement, and color privy to few, if any, professionals. With his acute eye and photographic memory, he has observed differences between species that have heretofore been overlooked by professionals. In addition to his bill identification technique, Dick also focuses attention on another unique field identification concept, that of local altitudinal flight stratification. His renditions of heads, wings, and ducks in flight highlight specific differences that further aid identification. All in all, the contents of this booklet represent a significant breakthrough which will prove to be a blessing to the beginning water fowler and veteran alike.
Frank C. Bellrose
Illinois Natural History Survey
This guide introduces new aids for identifying waterfowl. One identifies the species of duck in hand; the other assists in determining the species in flight. A duck in hand can be identified by the size and shape of its bill. Charts are provided for the user to match a bill in hand with the outlines of the particular species. The full size and shape of the bill is repeated on the pages for each species, along with information to solidify the selection. Juveniles of both sexes have bills that are slightly smaller, but even these will fall within the basic size and shape of the species. Color of the bill is of lesser importance because it will vary with age and season. Although positive identification is provided through this method, it should be understood that every effort should be made to identify a duck before you have it in hand. To aid in flight identification, this method introduces a new dimension - Levels (strata or layer) of flight that the various species fly in over open water, and these are divided into four distinct levels. The study and use of this dimension, coupled with flock characteristics and species markings, will aid your in-flight identification. Through artwork, I have shown only what you should focus your attention on. In flight; the relative shades formed are more apparent than distinctive color and definition. For identifying birds in hand, I have shown only heads and the area on the wing that is of the greatest importance - all other detail is omitted to avoid confusion.
Good luck, and may our paths cross many times.