Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Duck Band Recovered by the Yellow Dog Patrol

For decades now, biologists and others scientists often "band" birds to study their migratory patterns. The band is a harmless, small metal ring that fits around the bird's leg, and it contains a record which ties it to a database which contains all the information known about the bird at the time is was banded. Once recovered, information on its recovery can be reported (location, date, etc.) to study the specific bird's migratory patterns.

As duck hunters, we sometimes harvest birds with bands. It is quite rare - every year less than 500,000 waterfowl are banded, and only 80,000 bands are reported.

While the Yellow Dog Patrol was on its most recent southern engagement, I happed to shoot a hen pintail that was banded. I'm not proud that I shot a hen, especially on the last day of the season in the continent. That hen should be laying eggs in a prairie pothole somewhere this spring.

It was a legal harvest, and in the first light shooting I truly believed I was shooting at a drake silhouette, but the fact that it was banded made up for my mistake some.

So how rare is shooting a bird with a band? Since the 2000 season I've kept meticulous records of the harvest of waterfowl we've hunted - dates, times, number, species, etc. In just that time alone, from Canada to Louisiana, I've been there for the harvest of 951 various waterfowl, and witnessed only four bands recovered.

Once reported, most waterfowlers add the recovered bands to their duck call lanyards, and I'm no exception. Here's my lanyard:

One of my bands is a promotional one from my days working at Herter's. Two other bands are my dad's. The rest are mine, collected over 35 years of hunting.

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