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Waterfowl bling

February 3, 2013
Nick Buseman - Grundy County Operation Supervisor , Reinbeck Courier

Waterfowl BLING, what in the world is he talking about? If you are an avid duck or goose hunter you understand the term. A trophy to any waterfowl hunter is to harvest a bird carrying some jewelry - a metal band around its leg. Harvesting a duck or goose carrying a band is something every waterfowl hunter dreams of, but that little band helps biologist around the country do so much more.

The term banding comes from the placement of a metal band around the bird's leg. In other words he or she is sporting a nice aluminum anklet. The metal band has an identification number scribed into it for the purpose of tracking the bird. The state of Iowa, or the DNR, bands 4,000 to 5,000 ducks and 4,000 to 6,000 giant Canada geese each year. Most of these birds are the young of the year. The most common duck banded in Iowa is the wood duck, but other species are banded as well. A lot of the information we know about waterfowl and other birds is the result of the banding information. Banding information has taught us a lot about the travel patterns, life span, wintering grounds and also breeding grounds of these birds. Learning this information over the last 100 years has provided biologists with population trends and survival rates, which in hunter's terms helps them in setting bag limits and also season lengths. Without the cooperation of hunters and outdoor enthusiasts a lot of this information would not get relayed back to the biologists.

If you are fortunate enough to harvest, or to find a deceased bird carrying a band you are asked to report that bird. You are able to report the band information by calling 1-800-327-2263 or online at The only way this data can be compiled is with the cooperation of the public. It is our responsibility as outdoor enthusiasts to report the band. When reporting the band they will want to know where and when you found or harvested the banded bird. After reporting the band you will receive a certificate stating the information about the bird you harvested. On the certificate they will tell you the species, age, and sex of the bird, along with the location it was banded. Most of the harvested birds in this area have usually been banded not too far way, but there are instances where the bird could be from as far away as Canada. Once you have reported the bird it is your memento from either your hunt or your discovery. Many waterfowl hunters like to place the band on their call lanyard for reminders of past hunts or to show them off to their hunting buddies.

Article Photos

One of the Canadian geese receiving a metal leg band at Grundy County lake.

The last 4 or 5 years we have been cooperating with the Iowa DNR in banding geese at the Grundy County lake located in Dike. Last year we banded 40 Canada geese. Banding usually takes place in late June or early July. During this time most of the geese are in the molting stage which results in the loss in the ability to fly. With the birds flightless it makes banding an accomplishable goal. So far we haven't seen that data results from the birds banded at the Grundy County lake, but hopefully soon we will be able to pass that data on to you.

If you are fortunate enough to harvest a bird sporting some BLING make sure to do your part and report the band.



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