Stuttgart, Ark. June 2, 2020 – Thanks to the generous support of Mack’s Prairie Wings, Ducks Unlimited (DU) and private donors, duck banding will continue this winter in Arkansas. This important research offers insights into the travels of migratory birds and is being conducted by students from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
Each year millions of ducks overwinter in Arkansas, drawing hunters from across the country to this unique section of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) where their lodging, meals and other expenses fuel rural economies.
Arkansas receives most of its ducks from the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), an area known as the “duck factory.” This critical landscape is one of Ducks Unlimited’s (DU) top conservation priority areas. Because of this link, Arkansas is the perfect area for conducting duck banding research into the migration habits of waterfowl.
Banding is the attachment of a small, individually numbered bracelet to the leg of a wild bird to enable individual identification. By recording where birds are banded and retrieved, scientists keep track of the movements of the bird. Banding research helps scientists investigate patterns in waterfowl distribution and migration, such as return rates to the same wintering area, and provides information on harvest and survival rates.
Since 2014, Dr. Douglas Osborne and his students from the University of Arkansas at Monticello have been trapping and banding ducks in their traditional wintering grounds of Arkansas.
Most people are more familiar with the banding coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on the breeding grounds in the summer,” Osborne said. “Winter banding, which can be more cost and time efficient, has occurred off and on in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley since the 1960s. Given that the USFWS has cancelled banding this summer due to Covid-19, winter banding may be even more important in coming years."
This project is fully supported by private donors and Ducks Unlimited. Based in Stuttgart, Ark., Mack’s Prairie Wings recently contributed $10,000 to the study that will allow the research to continue this winter.
"We have a passion for hunting, it’s in our blood!” said Marion McCollum, owner and president of Mack’s Prairie Wings. “Since my father started this business in the 1930s, we’ve supported duck hunters and waterfowl enthusiast alike. Having the opportunity to support research that will help us to better understand the ducks just seemed like the right thing to do in the name of hunting and conservation."
The latest report on this project can be found here.