Banding Waterfowl in Maine
Sarah Yates and Anthony Roberts
This year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting mitigations, the branch had to again organize and plan for domestic waterfowl banding operations. I am from Maine and Tony is currently located in Vermont, so we returned to Aroostook County, Maine to help the Atlantic Flyway and the State of Maine meet their waterfowl banding quotas for 2021. Currently, the Atlantic Flyway uses a multi-stock adaptive harvest management model to set hunting regulations for waterfowl. These four species — wood duck, ring-necked duck, American green-winged teal, and common goldeneye — are important species for hunters across the Atlantic Flyway and comprise about 60% of the ducks harvested annually in the flyway. Eastern mallards make up around 20% of the flyway’s harvest each year and are currently in decline, so the Flyway Council is developing an eastern mallard adaptive harvest management strategy. As result, our goal was to band and drive-trap as many target species as possible and increase our catch from last year.
Our baited swim-in trapping effort was highly successful, while the drive-trapping operation proved to be difficult. The ring-necked duck drive-trapping operation resulted in only three ring-necked ducks banded and was made difficult by the abnormally high water levels and the smaller concentrations of molting birds on the reservoir this year. However, the baited swim-in traps resulted in the capture and banding of 558 ducks from August 2 to the 22nd. Of these 533 were new bands, nine were replacement bands, and 16 were recaptures of birds banded in previous years. Seven species were banded and consisted of (in order of abundance), mallard (503), gadwall (14), wood duck (9), American black duck (8), ring-necked duck (6), American green-winged teal (1), and redhead (1). Of special note is the breeding redhead female captured with a young duckling, as this species has only recently been confirmed to be breeding in Maine.