New Duck Banding 2/22/12
CNY Wildfowlers Band Ducks
Nice job CNY Wildfowlers !
Click on Black Duck Banding and check out the gallery or click on first picture. Click on Duck Banding below second picture and watch video.
Jim Eckler said there’s “something universally cool about handling and releasing live ducks.
“It’s a neat thing for people to just get their hands on wildlife,” said the state wildlife biologist who is stationed at the Northern Montezuma Field Office in Savannah.
Eckler was talking about a winter black duck banding effort on the western side of Cayuga Lake, a cooperative effort between the state Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Volunteers from the Central New York Wildfowlers were out Wednesday at Cayuga Lake State Park to help out.
The effort is part of a larger, five-year pilot program being carried out at other locations across this state, in Canada and in more than a half-dozen other states. The program is in its third year.
Black ducks are being targeted because the species has been on the decline for decades, and wildlife biologists are trying to find out why and what can be done to increase their numbers. A hundred years ago, they were the predominant duck species in the state.
Researchers say one major factor is the increase in the numbers of mallard ducks, which have been taking over black duck breeding grounds (wetlands, salt and tidal marshes), eating their food and even crossbreeding with them.
“Basically, we band ducks to learn how many of them there are,” Eckler said. “We can also determine reproductive rates, harvest rates, non-harvest rates, mortality rates and their movements.”
All this information helps the U.S. Wildlife Service and the DEC set up hunting seasons, which seek to keep the number of ducks in a healthy balance with the evironment, he said.
This winter, DEC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff began setting up duck traps along the western shoreline of Cayuga Lake right after the late duck hunting season ended Jan. 10. The effort will continue until mid-March 20.
The birds are targeted for this time of year because researchers say they can get a better handle on their numbers after the hunting season. Usually the snow and ice helps to concentrate them in specific areas, making them easier to trap.
That’s not been the case this winter, said Frank Morlock, a DEC wildlife technician who got up before the sun rose Wednesday to bait traps at 11 locations. The birds this winter are more spread out, making them harder to trap, he said.
Last winter, a total of 256 black ducks were trapped and banded along the western shore of Cayuga Lake. This year, only 70 have been banded so far.
A low-to-the ground, “Montezuma confusion trap” is used. Full-kerneled corn is sprinkled just inside each trap’s entrance and down several adjoining funnels. The birds walk in to eat the food and end up getting confused and trapped in the attached side cages.
By late Wednesday morning, he and Scott Stipetich, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staffer, checked all 11 traps and came up with seven birds — six were black ducks that were already banded, and one male mallard that was not.
All the birds were then brought back in a single cage to the Cayuga Lake State Park boat launch where Eckler held a small seminar for the volunteers on black duck features, including how to tell a male from a female. Morlock put a band on the mallard afterward.
Volunteers were each allowed to hold a live duck and then release it into the air.
“It was fun,” said Matt Carr, 15, of Bridgeport, after releasing his black duck and watching it fly away. He’s been hunting waterfowl since he was 12 with his father and grandfather.
“The only ducks I’ve held before this were dead,” he said.
For more information, go to the black duck project Web site.
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