The Effectiveness of Innovative Wildlife Harvest Tools II: Assessment of Decoy Colors and Waterfowl Hunter Success
Anliker, Scott K.
Campillo, Luke C.
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For centuries hunters have been using waterfowl decoys in an attempt to attract more birds for harvest, yet what makes a decoy effective is relatively unstudied. More recently, new paint technology has introduced decoy colors that aim to look more like real duck feather colors due to the addition of UV-reflecting properties. This stems from research showing that birds have the ability to see UV reflectance due to a fourth type of cone cell sensitive from 300-410 nm (humans are blind to UV wavelengths, having only three cone cells, none sensitive to UV), and that duck feathers of many colors reflect UV light. We assessed the efficacy of decoys painted with ‘UV-colors’ in two ways: 1) modeling from an avian visual perspective the color differences between UV-paint colors, traditional paint colors, and real duck plumage colors, and 2) comparing hunter harvest success using UV-painted decoys and traditionally painted decoys. We found that UV-painted decoys are as visually different as traditionally painted decoys compared to real feather colors from the visual perspective of a duck. Additionally, success by hunters was similar using both types of decoys, suggesting that use of UV-painted decoys does not result in higher waterfowl harvest rates compared to use of traditionally painted decoys.
Mentor: Muir D. Eaton