The often untold Story of how Birds help Rice Fields

By Ken W. “Creekman” Davis

California winter-flooded rice fields are resting areas for migrating waterfowl. Actually, the birds are working! Ducks and geese are like kitchen cooks stirring the pot with webbed feet. When paddling around, foraging, and taking flight, they inadvertently aerate the water. The aeration is partially necessary for the decomposition of last year’s rice straw. It assists the bacteria to break down the stubble, which releases nitrogen and other valuable minerals. Bacteria are the base of the food web and serve as a delicatessen for a microscopic zoo of one-celled animals called protozoa. We will show you that micro-zoo over the next few weeks.

Video: Bacteria and small protozoa at 400 magnifications using a Phase-contrast compound microscope.

Ken W. “Creekman” DavisKen W. “Creekman” Davis is an aquatic biologist and wildlife photojournalist with more than 30-years experience. His images have been published in more than 4000 different periodicals, newsletters, brochures, encyclopedias and websites.