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By Michael Byrne - March, 2014

On March 16, 2014 New York Ducks Unlimited held its annual duck banding conducted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service at its facility on the grounds of Hubbard County Park in Flanders, Long Island, New York.

Amidst the chaos of excited junior waterfowl enthusiasts, intrigued parents, duck hunters and curious onlookers, Long Island Gun and Game had the opportunity to speak with Craig Kessler, the architect of this waterfowl youth program and retired Ducks Unlimited Regional Director to learn more about the significance of this program which is geared toward teaching young kids the importance of waterfowl banding and migratory bird tracking.

DU facilityKessler explains, the Flanders facility came to be as a stewardship agreement with Ducks Unlimited and the Suffolk County Parks Department in the early 90’s. The agreement was threefold: to conduct waterfowl educational programs; to manage the park’s wetland resources; and to maintain the historical integrity of the property. Ducks Unlimited uses the Flanders property to conduct sportsman education, hunter certification, waterfowl identification courses, youth waterfowl programs as well as special youth waterfowl hunts.

The banding conducted at Hubbard County Park is in part a small contribution to a much larger project – The Black Duck Joint Venture instituted in 2011, by NYDEC and the USFWS to annually capture, band and obtain vital information, over a five year period, on 200 black ducks that winter on Long Island’s tidal waters. Approximately 20 birds, caught by use of live traps, are banded at the Flanders location. The remaining birds are banded at other various locations Island wide. The project is conducted in early spring to take full advantage of the island’s black duck population that is still wintering here.
duck bandingAs biologists took and recorded information on each of the birds, they explained the process of how they gather such information as: sex of the birds; approximate age and whether or not these birds are pure bred black ducks or a hybrid species. The children were curious and took a keen interest by asking many questions. When biologists concluded their study on each of the ducks, the kids were invited to help release the birds back into the wild. This part was a favorite with the kids, as could be seen by all of the wide eyed smiles on their faces. This part of the process has a special interest amongst the children, because it gives them the opportunity they would not otherwise normally have to get up close and to handle wild ducks. It helps to solidify a lasting impression and hopefully one day recruit future duck hunters and wildlife conservationists into the ranks.
After all of the birds were released, the participants were invited to retreat back to the club house for some hot chocolate and coffee to help thaw the chill from their bones.

For more information on this program and other
Ducks Unlimited waterfowl youth programs, contact:

WAYNE ROBERTS- Long Island Ducks Unlimited Regional Director
2650 Ellington Road
South Windsor, CT 06074
(484) 553-7088




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