Banded Waterfowl
Why is the DNR banding ducks and geese?
When banded birds are recovered by hunters or recaptured by other banders and the recovery/recapture information is reported to the USGS Bird Banding Lab, we can learn how long the bird has lived and where it is at a specific time of the year.  Banding projects that are implemented during brood-rearing or nesting periods can also tell us where birds go to reproduce and, in some cases, if they nested.  Band recoveries from birds killed by hunters tell us where and when the birds from the banded population are being harvested.  If a large enough sample of birds are banded and recovered annually, biologists can estimate the average survival of the birds in the population.  This is important for monitoring the status of most populations of ducks and geese, but particularly important for species that cannot be directly counted such as wood ducks. 

How many ducks and geese are usually banded in Iowa?
DNR Wildlife staff band from 4,000 to 5,000 ducks and 4,000 to 6,000 giant Canada geese in Iowa each year.  Ducks and geese are banded throughout the state.  Most of the banded birds are young-of-the-year, i.e., they hatched the same year they were banded.  Most of the banded ducks are wood ducks, although other species are banded as well.

When are geese and ducks banded in Iowa?
Geese are banded in late June and early July, while in their flightless stage.  Ducks are banded after ducklings have attained a size adequate for handling and attaching bands without harming the birds, usually beginning in late July and continuing until the first week in September.  The June 2000 Wildlife Bureau Featured Activity article "June means Jewelry for Geese" provides information regarding the Bureau's annual goose banding activities.

If I recover a banded bird while I'm hunting, can I keep the band?
Yes, you can keep the band.  Many hunters like to collect their bands as mementos of their hunts.  We only ask that you report the band number, and the date and location where you harvested the bird.

To whom should I report the banded duck (or goose) that I shot?
You should report all banded ducks and geese that you recover to the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) in Washington D.C.  The BBL keeps records of all migratory birds banded in North America.  You can do this over the phone by calling (toll free) 1-800-327-2263 or over the Internet via the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center - Bird Banding Lab website,  The BBL will send you a certificate with information about the banded bird that you recovered. 

Want to learn more about bird banding?
The U.S. Geological Survey - Patuxent Wildlife Research Center - Bird Banding Laboratory coordinates all bird banding done in the United States and maintains records of band recoveries. For additional information regarding the hows and whys of bird banding we recommend visiting the Bird Banding Lab's site.