Description of orders

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ESRM 452, Lab 1


ANSERIFORMES: Ducks, Geese, Swans

  • Significant features:

Diverse group

Precocial young

Imprinting significant

Webbed toes with elevated hind foot in almost all species

Feathered oil gland

Waterproof feathers in distinct tracts

Down beneath contour feathers

  • Distribution: All continents

  • Habitat: All ecosystems with water

  • Size: sexes similar

  • Plumage: males usually brightly colored in ducks; geese & swans no difference

  • Body: most have long necks; diving species legs further back on body

  • Food: diverse; fish, vegetation, crustaceans, insects

  • Foraging Behavior: divers or dabblers

  • Breeding Behavior:


Geese & Swans: permanent pair bonds

Pairing occurs on wintering grounds

Clutch size: 4-11 (eggs are laid every day until clutch complete)

Incubation: 42-39 days

Nestling period: 1-2 days

Fledging period: 41-49 days

  • Conservation:

Sport Hunting

Habitat loss

GALLIFORMES: Grouse, Quail, Pheasants

  • Significant features:

Form Leks and flock in non-breeding season

Flight muscles are non-aerobic sustaining only short flights

Grouse populations cycle

  • Distribution: Worldwide except Polynesia and Antarctic

  • Habitat: Forests and Savannas
  • Size: Length = 30-90cm, weight = 0.3-6.4kg

  • Plumage:

Sexually dimorphic

Winter = Summer plumage (except Ptarmigans)

  • Food: Omnivorous

  • Breeding Behavior:

Ground nesters


Clutch size: 4-20 eggs

Incubation: 21-27 days

  • Conservation:


Habitat changes


  • Significant features:

Adapted for underwater pursuit

Rocks in gizzard

  • Habitat:

Breeds at high-latitude lakes

Winters mainly on saltwater

Nest substrate: Built nests near or on water

Solitary (Red-throated loon colonial?)

Clutch size: 1-3 eggs, median = 2

Incubation: 24-30days

Precocial young

  • Plumage:

All have vertical strips and white strips

White belly

  • Foraging behavior:

Short dives but can swim great distances

Diving depth: Max = 80m

  • Conservation:

Habitat degradation

Acid rain

Disturbance at nest

Trophication of lakes


  • Significant features:

Swallow feathers (to entangle fish bones, feathers are also feed to young)

Regurgitate pellets consisting of bones

Feet are at the extreme hind end of body and can pivot in all directions (act as rudders and paddles)

Elaborate courtship behavior

Non-flying species in South America

  • Distribution: Aquatic habitats on all continents and many islands (incl. New Zealand and Madagascar)

  • Habitat: Lakes (breeding season), fresh and saltwater during non-breeding season
  • Size: Length = 23-76cm, weight = 0.15 – 1.5kg

  • Body and Bill:

Elongated in piscivorous species

Rotund in insectivorous species

  • Plumage: Summer and winter plumage

  • Food: Fish, aquatic insects

  • Foraging behavior: Pursuit diving

  • Breeding Behavior:


Colonial and solitary breeding species

Aquatic nests (concealed in vegetation)

Clutch size: 2-6 eggs

Incubation: 27-28 days by both sexes, starting with the first or second egg

Independence: 44-79 days

Cover nest with vegetation when disturbed during incubation (Chickadees do this too)

Young are precocial and ride on adult’s back

  • Conservation:

Oil spills

Habitat destruction

PROCELLARIIFORMES: Albatrosses, Storm Petrels, Shearwaters, Diving Petrels

  • Significant features:



Oily fluid

Flight patterns

Wing molt

  • Habitat:

Pelagic during non-breeding season

Breed on islands

  • Size:

Petrels: Length = 12-25cm, Wingspan = 32-56

Albatrosses: Length = 70-140cm, Wingspan = 170-250cm

  • Food: Mainly Squid, fish, crustaceans, plankton

  • Breeding Behavior:

Nest substrate: Burrows, cliff edges, but also built nests

Colonial to solitary breeder

Sexual maturity: 4-5yrs

Mate for life

Clutch size: 1-3 eggs, median = 1 egg

Incubation: 65-79d in larger species

Fledging: 120-280 days

Feeding of young

  • Conservation:


Release of predators on islands

Power lines

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