satellite view from PMNM
E komo mai; welcome! Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is surrounded by a lei of foam in the middle of the North Pacific; it's a beautiful, special place.

Not only are there albatross on Midway, but many other interesting kinds of wildlife, both on the land and in the sea. Please enjoy exploring FOAM, an educational blog actively done while on Midway from May through August 2010. Posts are added from off-Midway, as information becomes available. If you're interested in a particular topic, please use the search box or the alphabetical list of "labels" along the left side of the blog page.

ACTIVITY: Duck Project

QUESTION:  How can we "touch" a Laysan Duck?

How can we really feel a connection to Laysan Ducks, the rarest ducks in the Northern Hemisphere, that live so far away on 2 tiny islands?

What does it feel like to sit next to a small freshwater pond on a 2-square-mile island in the middle of a salty ocean and see a fuzzy duckling swimming after its mother duck?!  How can we love and care about these special birds?

SUGGESTION:  For a week or two, host ducklings in a classroom setting! 

If students have an opportunity to see a duckling as it putters around on tiny webbed feet, touch and hold its warm, fuzzy body, and hear its young peeping sounds...then the students' experience will extend to the Laysan species as well.  When my son was young, we went to a farm supply store and bought a couple muscovy ducklings; they were little, brown fuzz balls!  My son took over care of the ducklings, and as they grew up they become (outdoors!) pets.  To this day, he is fond of ducks.

Of course, there are all sorts of concerns about having live animals in a classroom.  After all, students will get to smell ducklings, too!  Some concerns have to do with where to get ducklings and equipment.  There are a lot of procedures to work out about the actual care of the ducks in the classroom...and over the weekend!  And finally: what to do with the ducks at the conclusion of the project?  Certainly set up a home/farm for them to go to before starting the project; don't plan on irresponsibly releasing them to the wild!

With those concerns in mind, here are several additional suggestions--
  • Start the classroom project by incubating duck eggs, if an incubator is available.  Nothing quite like seeing a hatching!  
  • In place of ducks in the classroom, take a field trip to a farm, or a petting zoo with farm animals.
  • Take a field trip to a wetlands or refuge where there are wild ducks.  Perhaps a ranger or experienced bird watcher could guide students while they observe duck behavior.  Students could make drawings, take photos/videos/sound recordings...depending upon equipment available.  
  • Perhaps compete in the annual US fish and Wildlife Service's Junior Duck Stamp Program.
Here are a few websites that seem useful --
    If you decide to do a duck project, please let the FOAM blog know how it goes!