Field Studies on the Behaviour of Sea-Ducklings

  • P.M. Driver
Keywords: Expeditions, Exploration, Geology, Glaciers, Gravity measurement, Logistics, Magnetic surveys, Measurement, Science, Seismic surveys, Thickness, Topography, Victoria Land, Antarctic regions, Adélie Coast, Rennick Glacier, Oates Coast, Skelton Glacier, Anarctic regions


During the summer of 1959 the writer was engaged in studies on the behaviour of sea-ducklings in the Belcher Islands, Hudson Bay. This work is centred on an ethological study of eider ducklings (Somateria mollissima) with comparative observations on ducklings of oldsquaw (Clangula hyemalis) and redbreasted merganser (Mergus serratus); it had been begun in the False River area, Ungava in the summer of 1958. Once again Mr. C.W. Nicol gave able assistance. The objective of this work is to build up as complete an account as possible of the behaviour of the normal eider duckling in its natural environment, beginning shortly before hatching and ending with fledging. It is hoped that an account of the basic behaviour of this species will provide a sound foundation on which to plan analytical studies. The approach to this work is largely that of the present European vertebrate ethologists, but it is planned to develop the more "psychological" aspects of the work in future studies. The most obvious single comment to be made about the behaviour of the eider duckling is that it is extremely complex, more so than has previously been recognized. This complexity is partly due to the mixture of innate and learned processes, which together enable the duckling to survive the difficulties of the pre-adult stages. One of the present aims therefore is to describe the part played by innate mechanisms and to correlate learning processes with them. A brief summary of the results to date follows. ...