National Geographic : 1934 Oct
FAR-FLYING WILD FOWL AND THEIR FOES exists, all males resembling the dull-colored female (see Color Plate XVI). A great divergence in the arrival of ma turity exists in the duck tribe. Swans are not fully mature before their fourth year; most geese probably nest in their third year, while ducks of most species usually pair and nest in the spring following their hatch ing, or before they are a year old. This has a direct influence on the rate of repro duction in each species and should be taken into consideration. All the surface-feeding ducks nest before they are one year old, although this may not be universal in the case of some species such as the pintail and the widgeon. A similar condition exists in most diving ducks, but notable exceptions are golden eyes, buffleheads, harlequins, and old squaws, in which the males do not acquire full plumage until they are nearly two years old. In the eiders and scoters the adult stage is still further delayed. Mention should be made of the extinct Labrador duck, Camptorhynchus labrado rius, the last verified record of which was a bird taken in 1875 (see page 486). The passing of this species is a mystery which cannot be accounted for; even from the earliest days for which we have any record of the bird, it was a scarce species in the limited area of its range on the North Atlantic coast. Frequenting the shoal water of the shal low bays, it could not have been in much demand for food and few were brought in to the markets. There is no record of its nesting, nor even, with any certainty, of its summer home. Although it was a diving duck, the peculiar shape of its bill suggests that it sifted its food in shallow water. PROBLEMS OF CONSERVATION Of all the questions relating to wild fowl, the problem of their perpetuation is the most important. Every one naturally takes an interest in their conservation and wishes to see an increase in their numbers. But unfortunately there are two divergent schools at work, one that wishes to protect wild fowl from the viewpoint that they provide sport, and the opposite group that insists they be protected vigorously and all shooting be abolished. Between the two extremes lie all shades of compromise. For the good of the wild fowl of North America, it is essential that these different views be reconciled, and a concerted course © George S. Wilcox WATCHING OVER HIS WILD-DUCK GUESTS From the platform in the top of this bitter pecan tree, nearly 100 feet from the ground, George S. Wilcox, shown here on his way up, studies the flight habits of ducks flocking to his sanctuary near Stuttgart, Arkansas (see page 488).