January 02, 2014 at 5:42pm
The study that is going on for Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks is what we call a 'pilot' study. Pilot studies provide information for larger, more comprehensive studies. I've included some information here that I hope you will find informative:
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (BBWDs) have recently expanded their range to include southern Louisiana. A recent species account shows BBWDs breeding in south Louisiana, but does not report wintering BBWDs in south Louisiana. However, numerous large flocks of BBWDs are seen in late winter in coastal Louisiana, and BBWDs have been seen regularly in Gulf Coast habitats and associated agricultural areas during summer. The extent and chronology of migration occurring in BBWDs present in southern Louisiana is unknown. Sport hunters in Louisiana harvest BBWDs as a part of an aggregate daily bag limit during the regular duck season; hunter harvest in Louisiana appears to have increased dramatically since 2000, but data for accurate estimates of hunter harvest are currently limited.
Winter banding efforts have demonstrated use of wintering sites in south Louisiana by BBWDs. Winter flocks in Louisiana with >10000 individuals have been observed. At least some breeding is occurring in BBWDs present in south Louisiana during summer; observations of broods in this area are common. BBWDs were previously described as migratory in the former northern periphery of their range in Texas. The quantity or proportion of observed BBWDs that are year-round residents in Louisiana, the proportion that are breeding elsewhere and wintering in Louisiana, and the proportion that are breeding in Louisiana and wintering elsewhere are unknown. The composition of migratory to non-migratory individuals may affect management for BBWDs in south Louisiana. Estimates of emigration and immigration rates and descriptions of the timing of these events do not currently exist.
This study was initiated to test methodologies that could be used to learn more about these and other life-history characteristics of this species. We are dealing with untested waters here. This type of transmitter (backpack mounted) has never been used on this species before. Further, this type of technology (GPS locator that transmits data through a cel-phone network)is relatively new. Thus, we initiated a 'pilot' study to learn about the transmitters, their attachment affects, and to experiment with the new technology.
The particular transmitter recovered by Mr. Herpin was placed on a female BBWD in April of 2013 near Forked Island, Louisiana. It successfully transmitted location data through July 2013, but failed to transmit after that. Recovery of this transmitter is of monumental importance to the project. It will allow us to return the unit to the manufacturer who may be able to recover any stored data from the unit and will be able to improve its design and reliability. It allowed us to eveluate the condition of the bird and will enable me to make improvements in my attachment technique.
For everyone's information, I am attaching a map of the movement data we got from this bird for the three months that the transmitter was working.
I sincerely want to thank Mr. Herpin for his cooperation on this project. The information we gain here will be very valuable. If anyone else comes across a similar transmitter, they can contact me directly at the address below.
LDWF, Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge
5476 Grand Chenier Hwy.
Grand Chenier, LA 70643
Phone: (337) 491-2593