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Duck Banding Stories

Harvesting a banded duck or goose is exciting in itself, but sometimes the ensuing tales are simply amazing
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  • photo by William Graves
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Early Miner bands treasured

Duck and goose bands have become collectibles. And perhaps none are more treasured than those originating from the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary in Kingsville, Ontario. The late Jack Miner founded the sanctuary in 1904 to provide a refuge for migratory birds. He banded his first wild duck in 1909 and in 1915 started banding Canada geese. That same year, Miner added a verse of Biblical scripture to his bands. By 1944, 50,000 wild ducks had been banded at the sanctuary, along with 40,000 Canada geese.

The tradition continues today. Last season alone, hunters from 23 states, Ontario, and Saskatchewan reported harvesting waterfowl with Miner bands. By comparison, the U.S. government's bird banding program was initiated in 1920. Since then, more than 23 million birds have been tagged, making the federal bands much more common.

Feeling trapped

A bird of distinction and discretion is a black duck drake that was captured 18 times during a nine-year span in the waterfowl banding traps of the Michigan Department of Conservation. An adult when first trapped and leg banded in 1949, the duck successfully eluded hunters and wildlife predators for 10 years. Caught in a trap on January 31, 1958, the bird's original leg band, which was worn thin with age, was replaced.

Sounds fishy to us

The practices of tagging and banding fish and wildlife often turn up oddities. In Wyoming, fish and game department personnel tagged trout and banded a merganser duck. A California biologist making a wildlife food study obtained the merganser after it had been shot by a hunter. In the bird's stomach was a tag from one of the Wyoming trout.
(Winter 1957 Ducks Unlimited Quarterly)

Marathon flyer enjoys travel

A pintail banded on September 2, 1940, in Athabasca County of northern Alberta eluded hazards until January 1954 when it was shot near Naucuspana, Tabasco, Mexico. Considering the 3,000 miles between band site and death, and assuming the bird made the two-way migration each year for 13 years, the pintail would have logged nearly 80,000 migration miles alone during its lifetime.

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