Species of the Month

Wood Duck
Aix sponsa

Family Anatidae
Description ADULT MALE Has shiny green-blue crown and mane, adorned with white lines. Chin and throat are white, extending onto face as white lines. Breast is maroon, flanks are buff, and back is greenish; these three areas are separated by white lines. Note red eye and red at base of bill. ADULT FEMALE Mainly brownish, darkest on back and head. Breast and flanks are marked with fine pale streaklike spots. Note the white spectacle around the eye and white on throat and margin of gray bill. JUVENILE Resembles adult female, but plumage is duller and patterns less striking.
Habitat Associated with forested areas, typically flooded valleys, well-wooded swamps and the like; requires areas that are flooded during the breeding season. Overhunting and habitat destruction brought virtual extinction by end of 19th century (sadly, a familiar story). However, hunting restrictions and conservation measures have allowed population to recover to roughly 1,000,000 birds.
Range Southwest, Southeast, Eastern Canada, New England, California, Rocky Mountains, Texas, Northwest, Plains, Great Lakes, Western Canada, Florida, Mid-Atlantic
Discussion Attractive dabbling duck. Males are bizarrely colorful and instantly recognizable; even the duller females are well-marked. Flies on rapid wingbeats and is surprisingly maneuverable through forested terrain. Gregarious outside breeding season, but seldom seen in sizeable flocks. Nests in tree holes and responds well to introduction of artificial nest boxes; often perches on branches. Feeds on acorns, fruits, and invertebrates. Sexes are dissimilar.

Info from enature.com


This month's LAPB Member Spotlight features LAPB President Andy Nyman.

Andy Nyman is a Professor at LSU and the LSU AgCenter. He received a BS in Biological Sciences from the University of New Orleans and then went to work for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries as a Wildlife Specialist. He worked 8 days on and 6 days off at the remote Pass A Loutre Wildlife Management Area (WMA) from 1985 to 1987. During that time, he was POST-certified and included law enforcement in his duties. He left LDWF to pursue a M.S. in Wildlife at LSU. He had intended to return to LDWF after earning a M.S. degree but instead pursued a PhD in Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, which he completed in 1993. He worked at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette from 1994 to 2000 in a non-tenure track position where he independently developed an externally-funded program to conduct research and train graduate students in the ecology and management of wetlands. In 2001, he filled the tenure-track position in the School of Renewable Natural Resources that was vacated when the late Dr. Robert Chabreck retired, who had directed Andys thesis. Andy was hired as an Assistant Professor, awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor in 2006, and promoted to Professor in 2012. He has authored or co-authored 65 peer-reviewed publications; all address wetlands but they span a variety of topics including soils, vegetation, wildlife, nutrient cycling, burning, oil spills, hurricanes, restoration and management. One of those publications is a chapter in the Wildlife Techniques Manual that focuses on managing coastal wetlands for wildlife. He teaches RNR 2031 (Principles of Wildlife Management), RNR 3108 (Case Studies in Habitat Restoration), RNR 4101 (Integrating Renewable Natural Resources Management, Policy, and Human Dimensions), RNR 4013 (Ecology and Management of Wetland Wildlife), and RNR 7017 (Management and Restoration of Wetland Functions).

Andy has conducted research on many of the WMAs and refuges in coastal Louisiana including Sabine National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Cameron Prairie NWR, Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, Marsh Island Wildlife Refuge, and Pass A Loutre WMA. Private landowners also have allowed him access including Miami Corporation, Vermillion Corporation, Sweet Lake, and Delacroix Corporation. He regularly incorporates field trips to WMAs and refuge in his teaching including Shereburne WMA, Big Branch NWR, Atchafalaya Delta WMA, and Lacassine NWR; he also occasionally takes students to Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge and Mandalay NWR. One of the classes that he teaches, RNR 3108, is a Service-Learning course in which the students monitor the effectiveness of a wetland restoration project that would otherwise not be monitored. In RNR 3108, students are required to spend their spring break at the Pass A Loutre WMA where they examine several restoration technologies including sediment diversions, created wetlands (from dredged material), and vegetative plantings.

Andy grew up in New Orleans as an occasional fisher in Lake Pontchartrain but as an anti-hunter. He was introduced to coastal marshes by a high school friend who took him fishing, crabbing, and trawling. He began hunting after attending UNO when he learned that it could be sustainable. Today, Andy is an avid boat-rider and pirogue-paddler who often uses fishing and hunting as excuses to explore bayous and ponds that are new to him. His hunting and fishing skills are weak enough that his family is convinced there are few fish or ducks in the marsh. He annually attempts to hunt ducks in the marshes at Pass A Loutre WMA with former students who show him how it should be done.