Posts tagged: ducks
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A male harlequin duck, known to be at least 17 years old, was recently identified in Glacier National Park by University of Montana researchers and Glacier National Park scientists.
“Prior to these findings, harlequin ducks were reported to live up to only 10 years of age, which makes this finding a positive indicator of the health and longevity of harlequin breeding populations in Glacier National Park,” said Lisa Bate, Glacier Park biological science technician. “Research indicates harlequin ducks mate for life unless something happens to one member of the pair. This old male has returned the last three years with the same female.”
Researchers launched the study in 2011, using radio-telemetry and banding to learn more about the location of harlequin nests and factors affecting offspring survival.
Upper McDonald Creek is considered an important breeding stream for harlequin ducks, comprising 25 percent of known broods produced in Montana. The area also has the highest density of breeding harlequins in the lower 48 states.
About 40 pairs of harlequins in the park are known to be in Glacier Park.
Read on for more detals about the harlequins.
WILDLIFE — Among the urban wildlife spectacles that stand out in Spokane's history, it's tough to beat the Duck Man's help in usering a brood of ducklings from their nest at Sterling Savings Bank to the water in Riverfront Park.
Joel Armstrong made some good catches in the May 16, 2009 episode as he helped the mallard mother parade her 12 ducklings down the Lilac Parade route — just shortly before the parade started.
Video of the event rightly made national news, above.
Kudos to the bank, which stepped up and turned the event into a windfall for waterfowl at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
HUNTING — Ducks Unlimited officials in Idaho restated their zero-tollerance policy for illegal hunting tactics last week after a former volunteer chapter chairman from Hagerman was convicted of baiting ducks with corn.
Ducks Unlimited leaders condemned Steele’s hunting tactics, not only as a violation of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act but also the ethics of fair-chase that govern hunting, the Associated Press reports.
Mond Warren, the group’s regional director in Nampa, called corn baiting akin to using salt to lure big game such as elk nearer to hunters’ scopes.
“We have a zero tolerance for any type of game violation,” Warren said. “It’s a very stringent policy, there’s no wavering on it. Our job is waterfowl conservation and wetland conservation.”
Warren might have used better analogy. Putting out salt or even bait for big-game hunting is illegal in Idaho but legal in Washington.
Baiting for waterfowl and other migratory birds is strictly forbidden in all states by federal law.
Read on for the entire Associated Press story about the baiting case.
CONSERVATION — Ducks Unlimited is holding a recruitment meeting Thursday (Dec. 13) in Spokane for people interested in helping organize a fundraiser for wildlife habitat projects.
DU is a nonprofit (501.c.3), volunteer run, conservation organization, that covers the USA, Mexico and Canada.
Bernard Brown, DU's senior regional director for Washington, will meet with conservation-minded waterfowl enthusiasts from 5 p.m.-6 p.m. at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille, 525 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
Contact Brown at (509) 860-1510 or email Bernard Brown firstname.lastname@example.org.
HUNTING/FISHING — My outdoors column this week discusses some of the disturbing parasites waterfowl hunters and anglers have discovered in the ducks and fish they've harvested in the Inland Northwest.
They're natural; been around for a long time, and in most cases the game and fish are still safe to eat — as far as we know — as long as you cook the meat to at least 180 degrees.
But would I eat visibly parasitized meat? What do you think?
WATERFOWLING — Some North Idaho hunter cried fowl when their duck hunting season opened a week later than usual, giving wood ducks and teal another week to get out of the area unscathed.
However, I found a wood duck bonanza today Wednesday while waterfowl hunting and tourng Ducks Unlimited wetland conservation projects near the Tri Cities.
Hundreds of wood ducks poured in to the Wallula Unit habitat area at the mouth of the Walla Walla River. I'm talking about a flight of perhaps 500 woodies that dropped into the area in just a few minutes.
Even the DU habitat biologist I was with said it was an outstanding sight to behold.
HUNTING-GATHERING — While most people head to the supermarket for their Thanksgiving fixings, some sportsmen head to the field.
Washington's late-fall wild turkey hunting season opens Nov. 20 in portions of Eastern Washington.
November is also prime time to hunt ducks, geese, deer, pheasant, forest grouse and a variety of other game around the state.
Late modern firearm general white-tailed deer hunting season runs Nov. 10-19 in northeast Game Management Units 105, 108,111, 113, and 124 for any buck. GMUs 117 and 121 are also open for the late buck hunt, but are under a four-antler-point minimum rule.
SPORTSMEN ONLINE — Idaho Fish and Game officials sat down Friday with 158 waterfowl hunters from all over the state, answering their quesstions about waterfowl hunting and management — and nobody had to leave their officer or home.
The agency's first online chat. For example:
Comment from Duckhunter:
Will Idaho ever move to a split season for water fowl hunting?
It is entirely possible that Idaho could have a split season; however, when we conducted a survey of Idaho waterfowl hunters in July, 75% of survey respondents favored a continuous season.
Click here to scroll through a replay of the first chat, which covered waterfowl rules, biology, management and issues.
HUNTING — Duck and goose calling contests plus seminars by waterfowling experts and a retrieving dog trainer are on the schedule for two days of free events this weekend (Sept. 8-9) at Cabela’s in Post Falls.
Some of the seminars will be conducted by hunters who've been spotlighted in S-R outdoors features, including Pend Oreille County waterfowling expert Kent Contreras and Spokane-area dog trainer Dan Hosford.
8 a.m.-9 a.m. – Registration for junior duck calling.
9 a.m. – Seminar on identifying waterfowl, hunting regulations by Idaho Fish and Game.
9:30 a.m. – Junior Duck Calling Contest (16 and under).
9:30 a.m.-10:30 – Registration for open duck calling.
10:30 a.m. – Reading birds, when to call by Bill Saunders.
11 a.m. – Open Duck Calling Contest. 1 p.m. – Layout blind hunting, judging distance by Kent Contreras.
2 p.m. – Working Man’s Retriever by Dan Hosford.
9 a.m. – Registration for junior and open goose calling.
9:15 a.m. – Duck calling strategies by Chris Redell.
9:45 a.m. – Junior Goose Calling Contest.
10:30 a.m. Reading birds, when to call by Bill Saunders.
11 a.m. – Open Goose Calling Contest.
1 p.m. – Hunting gear, hunting situations by John Plughoff.
2 p.m. – Working Man’s Retriever by Dan Hosford.
Note: dog-training seminars may change times if weather too hot for the dogs.
WATERFOWLING — Abel Cortina of Prosser won the premier solo event in the Washington State Duck Calling Championships last weekend, earning a berth in the prestigious World Duck Calling Championships held over Thanksgiving holidays in Stuttgart, Ark.
John Plughoff of Yakima dominated goose-calling, winnng the Washington State Goose event as well as the Open Goose event.
Cortina — chairman of the Washington Waterfowl Association and one of the judges in the state event — won the Washington premier contest in 2003 and went on to place 16th at Stuttgart.
Cortina missed several years of competitive calling while serving in the military, although he won the 2005 Arizona state title while stationed there and returned to finish second hin the Washington state event last year.
Cortina teamed with another WWA member, Mike Maier of West Richland, to top the Two-Man Duck event.
Apparently Cortina’s position with the WWA judges doesn’t help him in the competition. Judges never know who’s competing at any time; they’re in a segregated area and can only hear (and grade) the calls — not seeing the callers.
Read on for the list of top callers in each division.
WATERFOWL HUNTING — Preliminary surveys indicate a wet spring is just ducky for waterfowl.
While the jury's still out on whether pheasants and other upland birds will produce many young after the wetness that smothered our region during nesting, ducks apparently prospered throughout much of North America. The notable exception is pintails.
Is you're retriever in shape?
Here's a summary of the North America breeding ground population surveys by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
Mallard: totaled 10.6 million ducks, a 15 percent increase over last year and a 39 percent increase over the long-term average.
American wigeon: increased 3 percent from last year, but remains 17 percent below the long-term average.
Teal, Green-winged and blue-winged: numbered 3.5 million and 9.2 million, 20 percent and 3 percent respectively above last year. Both are well above the long-term averages by 74 percent and 94 percent.
Gadwall: increased 10 percent above last year’s estimate, and 96 percent above the long-term average.
Northern pintail: numbered 3.5 million, down 22 percent from last year’s estimate, and 14 percent below the long-term average.
More info: www.ducks.org
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Area birdwatcher Ron Dexter, who lives in the Mount Spokane foothills, has the welcome mat out for colorful migrants that return each year for his hospitality. Ron posted this delightful update this morning:
Each spring, we look forward to the arrival of Wood Ducks on our ponds. The first pair arrived about 10 days ago, then a few more every couple days. Yesterday, I counted 17. They are very flighty and try to sneak in to our duck feeding area twice a day. Our regular pond birds are Mallards of course. We fed approximately 40 through the winter. We have 4 domestic ducks. A spring fed water supply keeps an open space in the ice for them to bathe, etc. Two pair of Canada Geese arrived about 2 weeks ago to fight over the nesting platforms.
The Wood Ducks, however are our favorites. They checkout all of the nest boxes and eventually each will lay 10 or 11 eggs. Sometimes two will lay eggs in the same box. I have counted as many as 22 eggs in one box. 19 of those were hatched by one Wood Duck. The eggs all hatch within a 24 hr period and when the coast is clear she calls the kids out of the nest box. Believe it or not, they jump to the water or ground below no matter the distance. They actually spread their arms and legs like a sky diver and bounce like a cork when they hit the ground. Within a few hours, mama duck takes the young on a quarter mile hike through tall grasses down to the creek.
Last year one mama got quite used to us and kept her young on the pond for 2 weeks which we throughlly enjoyed. She hides them in the cattails most of the time, but the brave or naughty ones dart our and around the pond looking for something to eat. Ahhhh, spring is arriving
WATERFOWL HUNTING — Mikal Moore, state waterfowl biologist, compiled data Wednesday from the season’s first aerial waterfowl surveys over the Columbia River Basin on Monday and Tuesday.
Bottomline: Northerns are here.
“There a lot of new birds in the area, probably recently arrived, that seem to be staging in large groups at well-established reserves and private hunting clubs”, she said. The ducks were not yet well distributed and widely available to hunters, but many opportunities exist, she said.
Waterfowlers will want to read on for details from her observations.
WATERFOWL HUNTING — After mechanical “Robo Duck” decoys were invented in the late 90s, Washington waterfowl hunters enjoyed a few seasons to sample their effectiveness.
Many hunters liked what they saw as the wings caused movement in the air and water to lure waterfowl from afar.
But a majority of sportsmen and wildlife managers thought they were so effective they could eventually lead to reduced limits or shorter seasons.
In 2001, the Fish and Wildlife Department conducted a casual survey of hunters and found that 34 percent opposed use of mechanical decoys, 46 percent would be in favor of using them if it did not result in loss of hunting opportunity and 20 percent favored mechanical decoys unconditionally.
A 2006 survey found 40 percent opposition, 49 percent in favor if no restrictions resulted and 11 percent in favor unconditionally.
This fall, sportsmen on the Washington Waterfowl Advisory Group voted 7-5 to support a proposal reinstating use of battery-operated or other electronic decoys. This would bring Washington into alignment with Idaho and Montana, which have no restrictions on mechanical decoys.
The proposal made the list of items being considered for the 2012-2014 Washington hunting regulations.
In November, the WDFW conducted one more email survey among hunters who had purchased state waterfowl license endorsements in the past two years. Of the 3,500 responses:
More public comment will be taken on revised proposals in January before the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission consider the hunting rules package again in March.
Ardent waterfowl hunter Kent Contreras of northeastern Washington said he’s on the fence, along with most hunters.
“They definitely are effective at bringing in ducks and geese,” he said while hunting Saturday. “I’ve heard from hunters in other states who say mechanical decoys become less effective the more waterfowl see them. But motion in a decoy spread is always effective.”
WATERFOWL — She’s back! A wood duck once again is bringing the “White Christmas” spirit to Riverfront park.
The mystery has been solved about the wood duck bringing a white Christmas spirit to Riverfront Park.
Some speculated it was an albino, others suggested the duck with the pink eye rings was a leucistic bird in disguise.
The bird has been feeding among the mallards for several weeks in the Spokane River between the Opera House and Carousel. Local birder Buck Domitrovich photographed what likely was the same bird last year at the park (left).
Wild wood ducks normally migrate away from the Spokane-North Idaho area around mid-October. Most birders agreed this woodie might be the product of captive breeding, but nobody seemed to know for sure — until local birding expert and breeder Dennis Dahlke chimed in.
“This white duck is a captive bred female wood duck,” he said. “She is not albino, just a color variation. Belonged to a friend of ours. Coyotes helped her escape when they killed most of the other ducks in that pen last winter.”
The woody is smaller than the mallards she paddles around with, but she holds her own — she's not afraid to take after bigger birds that get in her way.
Freak show: One birder emailed me with an interesting observation about the way many of us view wildlife: “It's interesting to me that human freaks freak us out but other animal freaks turn us on,” she said.
YOUTH HUNTING — A few openings are still available for three mentored waterfowl hunting opportunities for youth aged 15 and under, sponsored byThe Idaho Department of Fish & Game Department.
If you have a kid who might be interested in being exposed into this fascinating sport, don't miss this opportunit y.
The hunts are planned for Saturday, Sept. 24, the opening day of the annual youth-only waterfowl season which is open only to hunters age 15 and under. The mentored hunting clinics will be held at Boundary Creek Wildlife Management Area, Heyburn State Park, and the Clark Fork River delta.
Participation will be by advanced reservation and space is limited. Anyone interested should call to reserve a spot at one of the three clinics and to obtain additional details.
Young hunters will need to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult and bring a shotgun and ammunition. Young hunters will also need to secure a youth or small game license ($7.25) with a federal migratory bird permit ($1.75) prior to the event.
Youth participants and a guardian will have the opportunity to spend a morning hunting with an experienced waterfowl hunter. Following a morning hunt, all will be treated to a free barbeque and waterfowl hunting skills clinic.
The idea is to expose youth to a quality hunting experience and provide their guardian with enough training to repeat the experience independently.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is also soliciting experienced waterfowl hunters willing to assist with the clinics. If you want to help pass on the tradition of waterfowl hunting, please call either of the numbers listed above.
WATERFOWLING — Duck and goose hunting in Washington this fall will be roughly the same as last year under the season adopted last week by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission approved.
Statewide duck hunting season will be open Oct. 15-19 and from Oct. 22-Jan. 29.
A special youth hunting weekend is scheduled Sept. 24-25.
Special limits for hen mallard, pintail, redhead, scaup, canvasback, goldeneye, harlequin, scoter and long-tailed duck will remain the same.
Goose hunting seasons vary by management areas across the state, but most open Oct. 15 and run through January 2012.
Details on the waterfowl hunting seasons will be available later this week on WDFW’s website.
Duck production surveys indicate a great crop of waterfowl in the western U.S.
HUNTING — Waterfowl hunters are being asked to responded to a survey on Idaho hunting season options by the end of the week.
“We’ve had some requests for more late season duck hunting, and we’re asking hunters statewide to weigh in on which way they’d like to go,” said Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager in Coeur d'Alene, noting that the Coeur d'Alene area is in Area 2 for both ducks and geese.
Duck production surveys indicate a great crop of waterfowl in the western U.S., so it's worth chiming in on seasons.
Read on for details on the proposals currently under consideration.
HUNTING– With the duck factories of North America producing a record high number of waterfowl, Montana and Idaho waterfowl hunters have something to look forward to this fall.
This year, 10 primary duck species on the traditional spring survey areas totaled about 45.6 million—a record high for the survey that dates back to 1955, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recent surveys.
That’s an 11 percent increase over 2010 and 35 percent above the 50 year long-term average.
“This year all parts of the 'duck factory' kicked in,” said Jim Hansen, the Central Flyway coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. “Just about all of the north central U.S. and Prairie Canada have been wet, but certainly it came with flooding that has been terrible.”
Mallards, the most sought-after species in Montana, were up 9 percent from last year at 9.2 million—22 percent above the long-term average.
Pintails, which have been in decline, showed a 26 percent increase and were 10 percent above the long-term average.
Redheads reached a record high, 106 percent above the long-term average.
HUNTING– A waterfowl calling contest coming up in the Tri-Cities will give the open division winner an all-expense-paid trip to the hallowed quacking grounds of the World Duck Calling Championships in Stuttgart, Ark.
The sanctioned Washington Duck Calling Championships are set for Aug. 6-7 at Wholesale Sports in Kennewick, sponsored by the Washington Waterfowl Association.
In addition to the Open Duck competition, the event has eight other contests and divisions for duck, goose, youth and two-person competition.
Info: Abel Cortina, (509) 786-9196, email email@example.com.
Read on for details on the divisions.