NH Banded 834 Ducks This Year
If you see the band, report it.
Each year New Hampshire Fish and Game wildlife biologists attach hundreds of metal bands to ducks throughout the state in August and September as part of the pre-season banding effort conducted in U.S. states and Canadian provinces throughout the Atlantic Flyway. This year, a total of 834 ducks were banded in New Hampshire – the second highest total banded in the 28 years of the program. This included: 649 mallards, 154 wood ducks, 24 black ducks and 7 black duck/mallard hybrids. Following 28 consecutive years of pre-season duck banding, nearly 10,000 ducks have now been banded in New Hampshire. More than 200,000 ducks and 150,000 geese and swans are banded annually in North America each year.
Each metal band has a unique sequence of numbers, and biologists record the species, age and sex of each duck before it is released. At the end of the season, all the data is submitted to the Bird Banding Lab at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland. When a hunter shoots a duck with a metal band, or a wildlife viewer reads the band through a spotting scope, they are asked to report the information to a website provided on the band.
“Please take the time to report your bands,” urges Wildlife Biologist Jessica Carloni, the NH Fish and Game Department’s waterfowl biologist. “A substantial amount of effort went into putting these markers on, and band reports provide important management data.” About 85,000 bands are reported each year.
Bands are made of an aluminum alloy. The numbers are stamped into the band. A mallard might wear the numbers off a band in 8-10 years, but that isn't a problem as the average life-span of the duck is 3 years—though some live as long as 20 years. (The oldest banded mallard lived 27 years and 7 months before he was shot by a hunter in Arkansas.)
Banding provides biologists with important information, such as where the ducks are born and where they go. Many mallards banded in New England hatched locally and or migrated from areas around the Great Lakes. Many of the teal came from the Prairie Pothole Region. Diving ducks, for the most part, are products of the Atlantic Coast and prairies, according to Ducks Unlimited.
Banding ducks is not simple. Biologists put out bait to attract ducks to locations where they can be banded. Although numerous capture techniques exist, the two most widely used in New Hampshire are bait traps and rocket nets. Bait traps are simple enclosures with a closing-door mechanism to trap ducks. Rocket nets are very effective at catching large groups of birds. Three rockets are attached to a large net; each rocket contains a load of black powder. When the ducks are close enough, the biologist fires the rockets, which propel the net into the air, catching the unharmed ducks underneath.
Duck bands are sold on Etsy as jewelry.