Duck Bands & Other Waterfowl Markers

Duck Bands on a Mallard

Bands play an important role in the management of North America's waterfowl by providing important information on waterfowl movements, harvest and survival rates. Hunters are encouraged to submit all band recoveries by calling the Bird Banding Laboratory at 800-327-BAND or by reporting the band online.

These maps represent recoveries from 1986-2015 for states and provinces in all 4 flyways, ducks that were banded in July and August only, and birds recovered during the regular duck season  (generally, between September and January) . Only banded birds recovered and reported by hunters were used in the production of the maps.

Each dot represents a location where one or more harvested and reported ducks were banded by the state in which the bird was recovered. Band returns by species are represented by the following colors:

  • Mallard - green
  • American Black Duck - black
  • Northern Pintail - yellow
  • Other dabblers (American Wigeon, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler) - purple
  • Teal species (Cinnamon, Blue- & Green-winged teal) - blue
  • Divers (Canvasback, Redhead, Lesser and Greater Scaup & Ring-necked duck) - red


Tens of thousands of waterfowl are marked each year with leg bands. This effort includes banding programs from the coast of Louisiana to the plains of the Dakotas to the Arctic breeding grounds of geese and eiders. Every summer, Ducks Unlimited operates waterfowl banding crews at stations in the Prairie Pothole Region of North and South Dakota.

In simple terms, recovery of leg bands helps us to estimate survival probability of banded waterfowl by indicating how many birds died. Not all leg-banded birds that are killed are recovered and reported to the Bird Banding Laboratory because some birds are not retrieved, or if retrieved, are not reported.

This loss of information reduces precision or confidence in an estimate. We can improve precision by increasing both recovery and reporting rates.

Hunting with a well-trained retriever will help reduce crippling loss and therefore improve recovery rates. Reporting your band online will improve reporting rates.

Waterfowl Band Returns | Interesting Band Stories

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