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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Duck Band "Jewelry" from DU’s Goebel Ranch

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Duck hunters love getting a banded duck. Shouts of joy and playful claims of “That’s my duck” come from every hunter in the duck blind once a banded duck is downed. Duck hunters proudly display their “jewelry” from duck call lanyards that become duck band necklaces. Ducks Unlimited’s recent research work at its Goebel Ranch complex in the Prairie Pothole Region of South Dakota is helping provide thousands of banded ducks for hunters this season.

Waterfowl hunters, of course, understand the value of data biologists get from duck band reports from hunters lucky enough to kill a banded duck. This data provides key migration, habitat and age information for individual duck species.

During August and September of 2006, DU biologists banded 4,033 ducks on the ranch. The total included 2,684 blue-winged teal, 720 mallards and 123 pintails among other species. This was the fifth year of duck banding on Goebel Ranch, and it was a record year (by more than 1,500 ducks). The only duck species not to set new records were mallards and lesser scaup. When the number of ducks banded at Goebel Ranch this year is added to two North Dakota locations where DU crews worked, more than 10,000 ducks were banded this year.

Banding ducks on Goebel Ranch and the reported band data helps DU estimate duck species recruitment and survival, as well as learn more about the birds and the habitats they use. A recent analysis of duck band information from ducks banded at Goebel Ranch tells how important these ducks are to Mississippi and Central flyway duck hunters. In five years, hunters in 26 states, one Canadian province and five Central and South American countries took 469 ducks banded on Goebel Ranch.

Click here to enlarge map.

Species breakdown of ducks banded in 2006 at Goebel (%of total)

Species Birds Percentage
Bluewing teal
2,684
66.6%
Mallard
720
17.9%
Gadwall
236
5.9%
Greenwing
219
5.4%
Northern Pintail
123
3.0%
Redhead
18
..4%
Lesser Scaup
8
American Wigeon
7
Northern Shovelers
6
Ruddy Duck
5
Wood Duck
2
Ringnecked Duck
2
Hooded Merganser
1
Hybrids
2
Total
4,033

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