From Xplor for Kids
August 2010 Issue

Wild Jobs: Duck Counter Andy Raedeke

Publish Date

Aug 01, 2010

It’s a bird. it’s a plane. It’s ... a waterfowl biologist?

Never bet against Andy Raedeke in a contest to guess how many jellybeans are in a jar. As a waterfowl biologist, Andy gets plenty of practice counting things, mostly ducks and geese. And, he does it while flying in planes and helicopters at speeds that would get your parents pulled over on the interstate. On the first pass over a marsh, the pilot flies 500 feet up to avoid scaring the ducks and geese below. In the copilot’s seat, Andy has a bird’s-eye view and quickly counts all the waterfowl.

For the next pass, the pilot banks and drops low. “It’s like riding a roller coaster,” Andy says. “You float off the seat and your stomach crawls up your throat.”

That’s when things get interesting. There are different kinds of waterfowl. As birds burst into the air, Andy estimates how many of each kind he sees.

“We’ve had a few close calls,” Andy says. “Once, we flew through a flock of mallards, and one came within inches of the cockpit.” Back at the airport, the pilot pointed out a dent the unlucky duck had left in the plane’s tail. Andy’s counts help biologists learn how many waterfowl visit Missouri, when they migrate, and where they stop to eat. The information helps set hunting seasons and lets wetland managers know how much habitat to provide. Want to try counting ducks and geese from 500 feet up?

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Also in this issue

Photos With Nop and Dave: Bell Mountain Sunrise

In photography—as in life—sometimes you have to try, try again. Just ask photographer David Stonner.

You Discover

With summer winding down, and autumn gearing up, there’s plenty to discover in August and September. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

My Outdoor Adventure

“This place needs help,” Triston said on the first visit to his family’s new farm.

Migration Sensation

Imagine traveling to a place you’ve never been. You have neither a suitcase nor a map. To get there, you’ll have to fly hundreds of miles and pit your wits against predators and storms. Sound scary? Migrating animals do it all the time.

Diary of a Black Bear

Hi! I’m a 3-year-old black bear. I live deep in the Ozarks along the banks of the Current River.

Xplor More: Tag a Migrating Monarch

In mid-September orange-and-black monarch butterflies flutter south to Mexico. You can help biologists track their movements by catching migrating monarchs and putting identification tags on their wings.

Whose Scat is That?

Animals leave clues to let us know where they’ve been. Search the woods carefully and you might find footprints in the dirt, chew marks on a nut, fur snagged on a thorn, and other, well, stuff.

This Issue's Staff:

David Besenger
Bonnie Chasteen
Chris Cloyd
Peg Craft
Les Fortenberry
Chris Haefke
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Kevin Lanahan
Kevin Muenks
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Alicia Weaver
Cliff White
Kipp Woods

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Xplor: Aug/Sept 2010

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