Sunday, February 9, 2014

They Call Me "The Duck Whisperer"

John discusses the Northern Pintail, our most common
duck at the Bosque, while keeping the Susie and
the Drake calm.
I suppose there are worse things to be called.  It all started innocently enough.  The staff here were kind enough to establish a day when volunteers could participate in the capture and banding of ducks here on the refuge.  I couldn't refuse the opportunity since I had so much fun helping with the kids banding day back in November.  It was a cold, clear morning but not as cold as the day we banded with the kids.

A drake mallard gets some attention too!
The birds were captured with nets launched by small rockets in an area away from the public tour route, but one that the biologists had been baiting for several days to insure plenty of ducks.  There were 2 different days to attend to allow for work schedules, and on the day I went there were about 9 volunteers and the one biologist in charge. Once the ducks were in the nets they were sorted into crates by species and sex.  Then the biologist gave us a lot of info about the ducks we were working with that morning. Finally each duck had to be taken out, weighed and wingspan measured, and released after having a small metal band attached to its foot and the info recorded in a log. 

Showing off the colors of my favorite little duck
friend, the green winged teal.
Saying farewell
That's when it began.  Since John the biologist was busy teaching about the ducks and making sure all the info was recorded and that the data was gathered and bands attached correctly, I just opened a crate and began to hand out birds.  I don't really have much experience with live, wild ducks, but somehow I just did it well.  So now I am the duck whisperer and considering some of the things I could be known for here, that's not a bad thing.  Besides, while all the eagles and hawks get lots of attention in the refuge, as well as the sandhill cranes of course, I think the ducks are the most fascinating birds here. So whisper on my web footed friends.  You know I love you!!

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