Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Duck Banding

By Levi Arnold, Wildlife/Forestry Specialist

As fall approaches, something’s are always a constant. Many people associate the leaves changing as a sign of fall. Many people notice birds beginning to migrate and to many, no migrational phenomenon is better than that of waterfowl. But do you ever wonder how do we ever know where these birds end up after departing where we last see them? Just how far can these things travel? Or, will they ever return back to the same spot?

Lots of research has been done over the years to determine the answers to all of these questions. Many state and federal angencies like the Ohio Division of Wildlife and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) work in colaboration with each other to see that little tracking devices get put into place on these creatures in the form of metal bands. Once the ducklings or goslings are big enough, these creatures are unharmfully trapped and fitted with their very own piece of jewelry, think of it as an ankle bracelet. Each band is carefully placed around the young birds leg with enough space for the bird to grow and mature but yet it won't slip off of the bird's foot.

Each individual band has a different number on it; when the bird is fitted for a band the birds age, sex, and location is noted and then placed in a database. The way that this information is transferred back to the USGS is typically by telephone. When a hunter takes a bird that is fitted with a band they are encouraged to call the phone number on the band to report a series of questions that can help them gather valuable data.

Another way data is gathered is by recapturing birds during banding time that have already been fitted with a band. Their information is recorded and entered into a database to keep a track on that particular birds migrational pattern. After time, their origonal bands can become worn and illegible. If a recapture birds band is illegible, it is replaced and given a new band.

Banding waterfowl has lead to some pretty neat facts, like that the oldest waterfowl to ever be taken by a hunter were a Canvasback and a goose taken by two different people but both at the ripe old age of twenty-nine years old. With banding we also know that“Blue-winged teal migrate the farther south than any other North American waterfowl. A bluewing was banded near Oak Lake, Manitoba, was shot by a hunter near Lima, Peru, more than four thousand miles to the south.” (

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