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Everything is Just Ducky!

Published: 09/21/2011

It's hard to take a few steps in this province without hearing a quack at this time of year. Manitoba's location-smack dab in the middle of the Mississippi Flyway-creates a bit of a funnel for ducks, geese, shorebirds and songbirds that prefer to winter on the beaches of Texas. The most plentiful group in the corridor is ducks, so let's have a look at all things ducky!

Winged Migration
Don't expect to have a conversation outdoors. Ducks fly overhead by the tens of thousands during migration season here at the marsh. The vast Oak Hammock Marsh, just 30 minutes outside Winnipeg, is an important staging area for ducks on their way south. There are concerts, festivals and special events until the flocks thin out. You can even explore the fall constellations of the night sky and find out how birds use the sky to navigate.

Don't feel like heading too far out of town? Aim for FortWhyte Alive, where acres of prairies, lakes and wetlands welcome ducks along the migration route, right inside the city limits. Take in dinner and show. The three-course meal at the Buffalo Stone Café features Manitoba-inspired cuisine and fresh vegetables from FortWhyte's own farms. The show takes place right outside the restaurant's windows as thousands of birds land on the lakes at sunset.

Head for the Mountain
It would be rare not to spot ducks in Duck Mountain Provincial Park and Forest. But the real story here is fish. Toss a line in East Blue Lake for trophy rainbows, splake and the odd lake trout. West Blue Lake is where it's at for walleye, and only electric motors are allows, so it's a pretty and peaceful spot. Next head for Glad Lake where rainbows and Arctic char make fly fishers very happy. A hike into Line Lake will offer the chance at walleye and muskie.

Duck on the Menu
Scroll down the menu at many a Manitoba eatery and you'll find duck done to perfection. At Bistro 7 ¼, birds get offered up as duck confit with sour cherries on sunchoke puree. Or perhaps a pan-roasted duck breast with wild mushrooms along with potatoes roasted in duck fat is more your speed. For something really out there, try the ducky dessert. It's peaches roasted in duck fat with crispy duck confit.

Pose For Your Duck Photo
Even when the birds are gone for the winter, you can still get a glimpse of the winged ones. In Petersfield, a giant mallard arcs its way over Netley Creek. In Minnedosa, a canvasback in flight symbolizes the fact that this neck of the woods, known as the Prairie Pothole Region, is an important breeding area for all ducks.

Ducky Hockey
He's arguably the most popular and well-liked Winnipeg Jet that every laced up hockey skates. His birth certificate says Dale Hawerchuk, but folks far and wide just call him Ducky. When the centreman stepped onto the ice for the Jets in 1981, everything changed for the struggling team. With 103 points under his belt, he lead the Jets to what was at the time the largest single season turn-around for a team. Now that the Jets have returned (after a 15-year hiatus), hockey fans are reliving the days when Ducky popped in goal after goal. 

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