The Majestic Monthly


Issue 15: March 2006

In This Issue...


All You Ever Wanted to Know About Feathers


Majestic Welcomes Geese


Get to Know Your Predators: The Red-Tailed Hawk


The Month in Photos!


Reader Poll #15


Recommended Reading:
Duck & Goose

The Month in Photos!

Riddles & Joker in a brotherly chat

Get to Know Your Predators: Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-Tailed hawks weigh anywhere between 2 and 4 pounds, females being larger than males. They are very aggressive raptors. 

We frequently see these hawks in our area and they are impressive. I have no doubts that they could take a small duck, although they seem to be scanning for ducklings. We have even seen them dog-fighting in the air with wild, adult Mallard ducks who are protecting their ducklings.

Red-tailed Hawks will take one of two tactics to catch their prey. They will sit on a branch and scan the surrounding area for prey or they will make flight patterns, back and forth over an area in search of prey.  

Reader Poll #15

Question: What are some of your favorite movies that feature ducks, geese, or swans in lead, supporting, or cameo roles?

Voting Has Closed.
Please see next issue for results.

Results of Reader Poll #14

Would you like us to devote a page on our website to recommended movies about ducks and geese?

Yes, bring it on! 100%
No Way! 0%

Recommended Reading*






Duck & Goose
By Tad Hills

| Ordering information |


In this goofy story, a duck and goose mistake a big spotted ball for an egg. Each one claims it and they fight over taking care of it. In the end, they realize their foolishness and become friends, enjoying their ball together.

The themes of getting along, sharing, and settling one's differences come across loud and clear, and the author does a good job with the subject without becoming too didactic. While the narrative is fairly straightforward and has touches of childlike humor throughout, it's the bright and colorful artwork that will attract youngsters' attention. The cartoon-style oil paintings set against soft-focus, almost impressionistic backgrounds keep Duck and Goose center stage, and their expressions are priceless.

* For our full recommended viewing/reading list, click here. If you order from by way of our web site, Majestic receives a portion of the proceeds!

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Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary
17 Barker Road
Lebanon, CT 06249

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All You Ever Wanted to Know About Feathers

Ducks and geese have five types of feathers:

1. Contour Feathers

bullet Retrice (tail feathers)
bullet Remige (wing feathers)
bullet Regular (outer body feathers)

Wing feathers or Remige feathers are asymmetrical in shape. The vane on one side of the shaft is much narrower than the vane on the other side.

Tail feathers or Contour feathers are symmetrical, with the shaft traveling down the center of the vane. Contour feathers cover the body of your duck and give them their shape and color.

2. Down Feathers

Down Feathers are fluffy feathers found beneath the contour feathers. They provide insulation.

3. Semiplumes

Semiplumes are found between the contour feathers they too provide insulation as well as some shape.

4. Filoplumes

Filoplumes are very small and have only a few tufts of barbs at their tips. They are believed to provide a sensory function, possibly helping ducks keep their feathers in order.

5. Powder Feathers

Powder feathers also provide insulation for your duck. They are found scattered throughout your duckís plumage. They slowly break apart and disintegrate into a powdery substance. This powder helps soak up water, which makes it easier for them to preen.

Feather Structure Basics:

The base of the feather, where the quil is bare, is called the calamus. When the feather is alive the quill has a vein in it that carries nutrients to the growing feather. At this stage of its growth it is called a blood feather. When growth is complete, the quill becomes hollow.

The calamus becomes the shaft or rachis at the point where side "branches" appear. The collective group of side branches on either side of the shaft is called the vane of the feather.

The vane of the feather is made up of what almost appear to be miniature feathers, these are called barbs. These barbs have even smaller branches that are called barbules. Barbules that neighbor each other are lined with opposing hooks or barbicelli. These hooks latch together which ducks and geese "zip" together with their specially designed bills.

Majestic Welcomes Geese!

Majestic welcomes its first domestic geese into the sanctuary! On the Saturday at the start of the cold front, rescuers huddled on the shores of a pond and waited for our kayaker Sharon to guide the geese off of the water and into our arms. The two geese have been residing on a pond wedged between a Home Depot parking lot and an extremely heavy traffic route in Berlin, Connecticut.

After consulting with the property owners and local authorities, we believe that the geese have survived at this location for at least 2-3 years. We were recently contacted about the birds because they had been spotted wandering dangerously close to incoming traffic to the shopping plaza. In addition to this hazard, concerned citizens reported that the geese had no protective shelter, that their bread diet lacked nourishment and that one of the geese had some sort of bill deformity.

Both geese were safely removed from the pond within hours and brought to our sanctuary. We suspect that ďAliĒ the blue-eyed, white and gray gander is a Pilgrim mix. Ali has a very strange deformity beneath his bill that almost appears to be a third bill. He went to our waterfowl vet for a closer examination.

Our vet determined that Aliís tongue is shorter than normal either because of congenital defect or because he sustained an injury. The tongue, being too short, rests incorrectly in the lower bill. The pressure of having his tongue push down through his lower bill has caused a pouch of skin to drop down under his bill. Aliís tongue rests in this paper thin pouch, rather than resting properly in his lower bill, as a longer tongue would. Aliís tongue gets stuck in this pouch and food also gets trapped in this pocket.

What does this mean for Ali? Well, it is vital that Ali has a constant supply of very clean water available at all times, so he can effectively keep this pouch clean. A clean pond is in Aliís best interests.

Our vet is certain that if Aliís short tongue is not an inherited condition, it is an old injury and that he's had it for at least a year, probably longer. At this time he recommends that we do nothing. With any luck and lots of fresh, clean water to keep the pouch clean, it should never cause him problems. If it does cause him future troubles, which he doubts, major surgery will need to be done to put a ceramic plate in his lower bill to seal it up and then the excess skin beneath it would need to be cut away.

Aliís was also exhibiting a great deal of shivering in his right leg. Our vet confirmed that Ali has no leg injuries; rather, it is one of the first signs of malnutrition and oncoming lameness. Although pond visitors meant well, the array of breads and iceberg lettuce being offered just werenít providing them with the protein and vitamins they needed to remain healthy and strong. When feeding waterfowl, it is best to feed them actual duck food or, in its absence a small, round and floating cat kibble.

Both geese were immediately placed on a Mazuri Waterfowl Maintenance diet (which all of our ducks enjoy as well). The geese are adapting very well to life at the sanctuary in their spacious 25í x 35í predator-proof enclosure. They enjoy frequent walks out to the new sanctuary pond for swims.

       Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee in connection with any guidance provided on this website. Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use or for the violation of any federal, state or municipal law or regulation with which such guidance may conflict. Any guidance is general in nature. In addition, the assistance of a qualified professional should be enlisted to address any specific circumstances.

© Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary 2006