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South Carolina Mottled Duck Research Project

Shedding light on the Lowcountry mottled duck population
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Project updates

Sept. 20, 2010  In addition to the birds we are tracking from our captures this fall, researchers are tracking 4 female mottled ducks from the 2009 pilot study. The pilot study consisted of 12 implanted birds, of which 8 were adult females, or after hatch year (AHY) birds. The remaining 4 were juveniles, also referred to as hatch-year (HY) ducks by biologists. Of the 12 birds radio-tagged in the pilot study, 3 females are known mortalities, 4 are currently being tracked and the remaining birds have not been detected in 3 months or more.

Sept. 15, 2010  Wednesday's tracking flight located 49 instrumented female mottled ducks, including 22 of the 27 that were released wearing backpack-style transmitters on Sept. 9. No mortalities were located during the flight. The next flight is scheduled for Sept. 22, weather permitting.

All updates on page 2 »

Biologists attach a radio transmitter to a female mottled duck in SC
Wildlife biologist Eddie Mills of the Nemours Plantation Wildlife Foundation (left) and SC DNR waterfowl biologist Dean Harrigal secure a harness-style transmitter to a female mottled duck at Nemours Plantation, S.C.

Study background

Ducks Unlimited and its partners initiated research in August 2010 to investigate the habitat use, movements, breeding season parameters and survival of female mottled ducks in coastal South Carolina. Female mottled ducks will be captured and radio marked over a three-year period to investigate the research objectives. Birds for the project are caught in August at night, using an airboat and spotlights to find the birds while they are roosting. August is typically when female mottled ducks undergo their annual molt, rendering them flightless. Once captured, all birds receive a federal band, and suitable hens are retained for radio instrumentation. Instrumented females will be tracked using telemetry techniques both on the ground and from fixed-wing aircraft. Our goal is to instrument 80 female mottled ducks per year during the three-year study. [more]

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