When I lived on a farm near Pittsfield, Illinois we primarily raised corn. One of the first years we were there, 1982 I noticed wood ducks building in numbers on the pasture ponds below our house. I went out to watch them one day a couple of weeks before season, just dreaming how much fun opening day was going to be. I think the limit was 2 back then, but don't remember for sure. What I discovered was their food source was corn, the corn that was passing through cattle. The wood ducks were picking whole corn kernels out of cow pies around the pond. Each pond was covered with ducks, hundreds of them, it was my first introduction to the world of staging. The wood ducks were staging just prior to migrating. The windfall I was expecting to find on opening day wasn't what I expected, the ducks were nearly all gone. We still had a few groups of wood ducks on the creek below the house through the entire season, but never any big numbers. We never hunted the ducks near the ponds as it would have been illegal under baiting laws anyway, but did shoot a lot of wood ducks in the creek every year. After that first day of seeing the wood ducks in the cow pies I talked to my boss about it while we were grinding corn for the hogs. I mentioned to him if the corn was passing through the steers whole, they probably weren't getting much nutritional value out of it and we always fed the cattle whole corn. After that day we ran all the feed grain through the grinder/mixer for both hogs and cattle and never had the huge numbers of wood ducks on the ponds the next 4 years we lived there. I grew up in emporia, kansas, columbia, missouri, and southeast kansas and have never seen birds stage like they did in Illinois when i was in my mid 20's, I've never seen it since. I still wonder if the birds were actually staging for migration or they had just figured out an easy food source that went away after we started grinding the corn. Sometimes things are not always as they seem I guess and I may never know whether it was staging or a change in food source. There was still fields of corn everywhere and beaver were constantly dragging stalks into the creek, giving the ducks plenty of corn in the water.