Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Atlantic Seaduck Project

January 1, 2006

Atlantic Seaduck Project is being conducted to learn more about the breeding and moulting areas of seaducks in northern Canada and more about their feeding ecology on wintering areas, especially Chesapeake Bay. Satellite telemetry is being used to track surf scoters wintering in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland and black scoters on migrational staging areas in New Brunswick, Canada to breeding and moulting areas in northern Canada. Various techniques used to capture the scoters included mist netting, night-lighting, and net capture guns. All captured ducks were transported to a veterinary hospital where surgery was conducted following general anaesthesia procedures. A PTT100 transmitter (39 g) manufactured by Microwave, Inc., Columbia, Maryland was implanted into the duck?s abdominal cavity with an external (percutaneous) antenna. Eight of the surf scoters from Chesapeake Bay successfully migrated to possible breeding areas in Canada and all 13 of the black scoters migrated to suspected breeding areas. Ten of the 11 black scoter males migrated to James Bay presumably for moulting. Updated information from the ARGOS Systems aboard the NOAA satellites on scoter movements was made accessible on the Patuxent Website. Habitat cover types of locations using GIS (Geographical Information Systems) and aerial photographs (in conjunction with remote sensing software) are currently being analyzed to build thematic maps with varying cosmetic layer applications. Many factors related to human population increases have been implicated in causing changes in the distribution and abundance of wintering seaducks. Analyses of the gullet (oesophagus and proventriculus) and the gizzard of seaducks are currently being conducted to determine if changes from historical data have occurred. Scoters in the Bay feed predominantly on the hooked mussel and several species of clams. The long-tailed duck appears to select the gem clam in greater amounts than other seaducks, but exhibits a diverse diet of other mollusks and crustaceans. Seaduck food habits in the Maritimes are decidedly different, where all three species of scoters feed extensively on the blue mussel. Understanding the feeding ecology of seaducks in wintering areas such as the Chesapeake Bay and the Maritimes will provide managers with a better understanding of the changes in the distribution and abundance of these ducks. Future studies will attempt to determine the effects of experimental diets varying in protein and energy levels on the physiology and behaviour of captive seaducks. An attempt will be made to determine if seaducks exhibit an endogenous rhythm in regard to body weight and condition during the winter. Foraging energetics in relation to different food sources found in the Chesapeake Bay will be measured in two large aquariums (dive tanks) with scoters and long-tailed ducks. The combined studies being conducted in the Atlantic Seaduck Project will greatly aid the conservation effort for seaducks presently being conducted throughout the world.

Publication Year 2006
Title Atlantic Seaduck Project
Authors M. C. Perry
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 5211411
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center