Where are the ducks going?
A wide variety of ducks are banded, with the majority being blue-winged teal. These small ducks travel some of the greatest distances from nesting to wintering grounds. A few of the blue-winged teal that were banded at Goebel Ranch were recovered in Columbia and Venezuela. In 2009, the Goebel crew banded 3,939 of the 14,342 ducks banded by DU in North Dakota.
"This banding season we have already recaptured an unusually high number of female lesser scaup that were originally banded at Goebel," Meidinger said. "Two of the female scaup were banded there in 2009 and another two in 2005. It looks like these girls like to call Goebel home for at least the spring and summer months."
"We have learned a lot about the distribution of birds that we banded in North Dakota," Warhurst said. "Ducks banded here have been recovered in all four North American flyways, but they are primarily using the Central and Mississippi flyways."
How banding information is used
By linking banding sites to the flyways the birds are using, biologists can effectively set harvest regulations in each flyway. They know the status of a population in a certain area and can predict where these birds will go in the fall. In North Dakota, ducks banded on the east side of the state generally use the Mississippi Flyway. Those banded farther west in the Coteau Ranch region use both flyways, with mallards typically going east to the Mississippi and blue-winged teal sticking to the Central Flyway.
"We are trying to determine where the birds we have been banding at Audubon NWR and throughout the wetland management district are going," Warhurst said. "In previous years we banded on the refuge and to the east; this year we are banding on the western areas of the district. We will need to wait a little while before we see the distribution of these birds and if they are focusing on one flyway or the other."
If you have recovered a bird band (duck or otherwise) you can report the number to the U.S. Geological Survey Bird Banding Laboratory. They have an easy-to-use website, www.reportband.gov, where you can enter information about the band, or you can call 1-800-327-BAND (2263). You will receive a report on where the bird was banded and its age. Plus, you get to keep the band for your lanyard!
More on banded birds: