The Duck Banding Night Shift
Late July during two days at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge more than 750 birds were banded with species including Mallard, Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Bufflehead, American Wigeon, and Redhead. It took a village to pull off the two night shifts that made this possible which included participants from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, HDP, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Portland Audubon, USGS, and Harney Soil and Water Conservation District.
To do this banding the group used the night-lighting technique. Night-lighting immobilizes waterfowl with light and sound, making it possible to net or grab them by hand out of the water. This technique usually offers a high yield of captures in the least amount of time as compared to other methods.
Waterfowl are usually banded annually (across all the flyways including the Pacific Flyway where the Harney Basin sits) and is essential to assess the hunting pressure, estimate productivity and survival, and can be beneficial for other species and habitat research projects. This banding work is one piece of the puzzle and connected to an objective in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan to understand what species are using what habitat on the refuge.
Pictured: Carter Lardy and Amanda Sutcliffe from HDP's summer crew banding captured ducks.