Saturday, March 21, 2009
Waterfowl Management, Part Two
As a followup to the prior post, this series will show the installation of a solar backpack on a female black duck. Prior to assisting with the project, I realized that transmitters were inserted in ducks but did not realize the technology had improved to include solar backpacks as well. Below is a side view of a one of the backpacks with recovery information blacked out.
Only adult hens are utilized. Before the process begins the hen is weighed to determine that she is capable of carrying a backpack. The first step is to place black sock over her head. This relaxes the duck while the backpack is installed. Next, a couple of elastic bands are placed around the duck's upper and lower body. These bands flex (allowing body movement) and connect at the top of the upper back where the backpack is placed. In the picture below you can see the sock and the installation procedure beginning.
The elastic bands are next secured to the backpack on the duck. This is an intricate process of sewing the bands for strength/endurance and then covering the stitch with heat shrink tubing for weather perseverance. The two images show Dr. Gary Costanzo doing both the sewing and tube process.
The entire process of trapping and installation is usually completed within the same day (unless the ducks are caught in late evening, then we will do an early morning release). Once the backpack is installed, the duck is ready to be released. Below is one of our hens right after the installation and prior to release. As you can see she looks quite content.
We always release the ducks in the same location that they were captured. Below is a photo of Tom and I with two ducks just prior to release. The next photo is of a hen with the backpack installed, immediately after she is released. As you can see she flies fine and is ready to provide GPS readings for tracking within 24 hours of release.
Next week's post with show the transmitter implant process. I will also include the web address where you can actually see the tracking results of ducks installed with transmitters.