National Geographic : 1951 Oct
515 Wide World "Step Lively, Please!" Mrs. Mallard Takes 13 Bits of Fluff for a Stroll This family, found in the garden of a home in London's East Dulwich, was transferred to pleasanter surroundings in St. James's Park. Here, while a bobby stops traffic and onlookers beam, mother and ducklings march briskly across a walk. change a brilliant green or purple to dead black. One can frequently make a dozen exposures of a pintail or a mallard or a wood duck (pages 527, 528, 538) standing in the same spot and have no two of them turn out the same. If the sun is a little too low, there will be an unnatural redness to all of the pictures; if it is too high, the black shadows under the head and breast will ruin their perfection. So the hunter with a lens comes to expect a very low average from his camera shooting, though he has the satisfaction of knowing that his misses cripple nothing but his wallet. On some of the refuges, and especially on private sanctuaries where an effort is made to maintain a breeding stock of hand-reared birds, some of the waterfowl lose their fear of man and become pets. In June, 1950, I visited the Severn Wild fowl Trust, in England, where Peter Scott, the illustrious waterfowl artist, has built up a collection of more than 100 species of ducks and geese from all over the world. Many of these, including the Ross's goose, for which he endured the hardships of an expedition to the Perry River country of northern Canada in 1949, and the nene, the nearly extinct goose of the Hawaiian Islands, are as tame as barnyard fowls and cluster about anyone with a feed bucket. If one desires merely photographs of the various species, such a spot is an answer to the photographer's prayer. It is, likewise, yielding facts and observations of much sci entific interest. Most of the hand-reared species perform their courtships and other behavior patterns in a normal manner, and since they are more easily and more continu ously observed than is possible with their wild brethren, new facts in their behavior or life histories are often discovered. The difference between wild-trapped and hand-reared birds in this particular is very marked, since it is unusual for wild-trapped birds to breed in captivity, even after they have lost their fear of man and seem contented on the ponds with others of their kind.