Duck band recovery is one of the most useful tools managers use to track duck movements and harvest patterns. It is also one of the most interesting. Biologists at Ducks Unlimited’s Goebel Ranch in South Dakota have been banding ducks and ducklings since 2002. There are nearly 1,100 reported recoveries from over 14,000 birds banded at Goebel.
Blue-winged teal are the most frequently banded species at Goebel, but gadwall and mallard have a higher percentage of recovery. The top three states that have recovered birds banded at Goebel are Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.
“The blue-winged teal always offer the most interesting recovery data, as they are the most well traveled,” said Randy Meidinger, DU manager of conservation programs for South Dakota.
This year Meidinger received reports of blue-winged teal recovered in Jamaica and Cuba. This adds two new countries to the list of recoveries that already includes Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Columbia and Venezuela. Another female teal, that was hatched and banded on Goebel in 2006, returned to the Goebel traps in 2007 and 2008.
“We invited her back for 2009, she must be keying in on the wealth of wetlands and quality grassland habitat that the Goebel Ranch has to offer,” Meidinger said.
Biologists at the ranch also gain valuable data on ducks during their trapping season. “We continue to see some unique visitors at Goebel. In 2008, we recaptured an 11 year old redhead female and in 2005 we recaptured an 11 year old wood duck female,” Meidinger said. “It is intriguing to capture ducks of this age, these old girls have been contributing new recruits to the fall flight for a long time.”
Download 2008 banding data (PDF) from Goebel