Most duckling mortality occurs during the week following hatching and is often associated with cold, windy, wet weather and scattering of the brood. We estimated the thermoregulatory demands imposed by cold, windy weather on isolated 1-d-old mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) ducklings resting in cover. We measured O-2 consumption and evaporative water loss at air temperatures from 5 degrees to 25 degrees C and wind speeds of 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, and 1.0 mis. Metabolic heat production increased as wind increased or temperature decreased but was less sensitive to wind than that of either adult passerines or small mammals. Evaporative heat loss ranged from 5% to 17% of heat production. Evaporative heal loss and the ratio of evaporative heat loss to metabolic heat production was significantly lower in rest phase. These data were used to define a standard operative temperature (T-es) scale for night or heavy overcast conditions. An increase of wind speed from 0.1 to 1 mis decreased T-es by 3 degrees-5 degrees C.
Additional publication details
Metabolic response to air temperature and wind in day-old mallards and a standard operative temperature scale