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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
SACRAMENTO NWRC: Duck Banding Night Helps Families Capture More Than Ducks
Region 8, July 30, 2009
Future biologist bands a duck. (photo: USFWS)
Future biologist bands a duck. (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a
Future biologist showing off his banded duck. (photo: USFWS)
Future biologist showing off his banded duck. (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a
Families gather at the banding station. (photo: USFWS) 
Families gather at the banding station. (photo: USFWS)  - Photo Credit: n/a
Deputy Refuge Manager Greg Mensik assisting another future biologist band a duck. (photo: USFWS)
Deputy Refuge Manager Greg Mensik assisting another future biologist band a duck. (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

by Jennifer Stockton, Sacramento NWRC
The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex conducted its second annual “Kids Banding Night” in July. The event helped 24 children and 12 parents recapture their interest in nature, and  recaptured mallards originally banded during last year’s event!

 

The duck banding operation involved catching ducks using an airboat and spotlight. When a bird was spotted, the operator would use the “strobe” effect of the spotlight to confuse the duck. The boat would come up alongside and the netter would scoop it up. The bird would then be placed in a holding crate on the bow of the boat. When the crate was full, it would be brought to one of two banding stations on shore, where the participants awaited anxiously. 

 

Prior to heading into the field, the group was given a short presentation on why birds are banded or marked, and the ways this information is used to help manage waterfowl populations. The “junior biologists” were involved from the initial capture to final release of the birds.  They were taught proper duck handling techniques, waterfowl species-age-sex identification, band placement, accurate record/data keeping, and how to safely release the birds. In total the kids and their parents assisted with banding 62 mallards, gadwall, cinnamon teal, pintail, and wood ducks. Even considering the fact that the capture net went overboard seven times, those children given the opportunity to ride in the boat did very well. The foam filled net handles saved the night!

 

“The banding night was fun! We learned how to catch and band ducks. We also learned how to identify the duck’s sex and age even when they were in eclipse.” said 12 year old Alex Wunsch after a night of banding.

 

When we called it a night at midnight there was a chorus of disappointed groans, as the youngsters would have gladly kept going all night. The end result was a great nature and family experience that will hopefully be one of many in their lifetime – and maybe even a career!

 

 

 

 

Contact Info: Jennifer Stockton, 530-934-2801 x15, jennifer_stockton@fws.gov