Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Volunteers Play Key Role in Annual Duck Banding Effort at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
Northeast Region, November 1, 2013
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A group of mallards and wood ducks coming into a baited confusion trap at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
A group of mallards and wood ducks coming into a baited confusion trap at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. - Photo Credit: USFWS

This past summer marked the forty-third anniversary of the pre-season waterfowl banding effort at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Long-time refuge volunteers, Leo Hollein and Lou Pisane, have led the effort since 2009. From 15 July to 30 September (between the nesting and hunting seasons), three times per week, Lou and Leo set a baited confusion trap at dusk along the shore of one of the Refuge’s major impoundments, checking it the following morning. Captured ducks were examined to determine species, sex, and age, fitted with aluminum leg bands, and released at the capture site. This year 90 wood ducks, 72 mallards, 9 green-winged teal, and 4 American black ducks were caught and banded. To date, over 4,000 wood ducks and 2,000 mallards have been banded and released on the Refuge.

In addition to offering temporary habitat for many seasonal migrants, including American black ducks, American wigeons, gadwall, green-winged teals, hooded mergansers, northern pintails, northern shovelers, and ring-necked ducks, Great Swamp NWR provides important breeding habitat for wood ducks and mallards. Hooded mergansers, American black ducks, and green-winged teals also have been observed nesting on the Refuge. Waterfowl banded at Great Swamp NWR have been tracked from Quebec, Canada to southern Florida and as far west as Minnesota.


The annual duck banding at the Refuge is part of a larger, national effort to monitor waterfowl populations through mark and recovery data. The extensive records gathered by staff and volunteers provide comparisons of pre-season captures and recaptures across years. Additionally, along with hunter questionnaires, wing returns, breeding population and habitat surveys, and mid-winter waterfowl surveys, band recoveries allow biologists to monitor species population trends and adapt or revise management practices.

Contact Info: Steve Henry, 561-735-6021, steven_s_henry@fws.gov
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