Title: North American Black Duck
For my Senior Project I worked with fellow
senior True McDonald to conduct an environmental study on the decrease of the
American Black Duck. We wrote a paper about the Black Duck and its
distribution, habitat, and diet. We also included the history of parks on
For my senior project I did a study on the
North American Black Duck. Growing up on
The basic Idea for my project was to do a scientific study on the decline of the Black duck population. We were going to trap black ducks and place Global Positioning Systems (GPS) on them in order to track their movements and migrations. Another component would be doing at least one other small project because of the extra time we had. The basic idea for our product would be a paper about our findings and observations.
The goals for my project were to acquire the skills to conduct an actual field study at Flanders Property, to observe the Black duck in its familiar environment, to attain the Natural History of the Black duck, and finally to conduct a project that would be beneficial to not only the black duck but also the wildlife in general.
Senior project started last spring when we
started to brainstorm what we were going to be doing for the next 8 months.
Originally I thought that I would continue my M-term, a project on Green
Business and Production. This changed when Mr.Drossel approached True and I to
do a nature-oriented project. We were granted the Flanders Nature Reserve and
started to think about what we would do our project on. It came down to the
reproduction and hatching of Striped Bass or the decrease in Black duck
populations. It was obvious that the Black ducks were in more danger, so we
decided it on them. At first we were going to observe and test the Black ducks
in their familiar environments as well as trap Black ducks and place GPS
transmitters on them. This soon changed because of the late of arrival of the
ducks as well as the overlap with hunting season, which meant we could not trap
the ducks. For our small project we decided that we would make a pamphlet
asking hunters if they have taken or seen any Black ducks, to supply us with
simple information. Also if they would be willing to help us more, send us the
esophagus of the duck. We placed this pamphlet at stop points, handed it out
but did not get any feedback. This was annoying because we worked so hard on
it. We could tell that the project was transitioning from hands on scientific
study to a paper. The final breakdown of the project was going to be that I
would do the Natural History of the Black duck and True would do the cultural
history of the Black duck and its impact on Long Island, as well as Sportsmen’s
The final subjects of the paper were Introduction/Distinguishing Characteristics, Cultural History: Water Fowling and Decoys, Distribution, Habitat, Diet, Migration, Vocalizations, Behavior, Reproduction, Lifespan and Diseases, and Conclusion.
During senior project I experienced many challenges. One being time management and procrastination. The time frame of this project was quite large and I hard to learn to manage this time in an efficient way, breaking the time into small periods. Another challenge was working with a fellow student on such a big project. We worked at different rates, had different schedules, and had to learn how to work with each other. It took time but we both got accustomed with working with and around each other’s schedules. The biggest challenge I encountered during this time was maintaining focus, motivation, and interest as project evolved from a field study to a scientific paper. This was definitely disheartening because we thought that we were going to be working in nature most of our time but ended up researching and writing. It took a little time but we both learned to appreciate the project for what it was.
I learned many skills and acquired a huge amount of information between last spring and this winter. Some of the skills were collecting quality hands-on information outside of the internet, understanding the natural history of the North American Black duck, creating and citing a formal paper, and maintaining motivation and drive to meet all deadlines. I found out that if I just looked past the Internet, and reached out to professors and professionals that I could find great, insightful information. Studying the Black duck for 8 months gave me a great understanding of the Black duck as a whole. I learned so much during my senior project and found out that I wanted to stay involved with this project. This spring we have the chance to do an internship, and I think that I will be working with Ducks Unlimited on the Flanders Nature Reserve if all goes well.
I would like to give a special thanks to Greg Drossel, Patty Lien, John Coluccy and Craig Kessler my outside consultants, Mom and Dad, Hugh McGuinness, Devon Parkes, and the Suffolk County Parks Department.
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Community Member (Details)
Craig Kessler- Regional director of Ducks Unlimited
John Coluccy- Manager of Conservation Planning and Head biologist of Black Duck research initiative.