For the past couple of months, a contractor for the Bureau of Land Management has been trapping and banding ducks for research purposes and today I had the opportunity to tag along. Two traps are set in various ponds around the wetlands and baited with barley. The traps are 8’X8′ cages with a long throat in the middle, where the ducks swim into it but they can’t get out. We learned how to move the ducks from the large cages to smaller cages, which were easier to take to shore. After we determine the species, sex, and age class of the birds we were given a band specific to those characteristics and recorded the data. Putting the band on the ducks foot was no easy task! You had to carefully hold the duck close to you with its wings tucked in while keeping their foot out stretched and placing the band on it. Trying to close the band was alot easier said than done, because it had to be closed perfectly with no gaps and both edges had to be even. Obviously, the ducks are less than pleased that they had to sit in a cage for a couple of hours and then get a giant silver band on their foot. I definitely came home with some battle scars! But for the most part they calm down once they are held like babies and let you look at their feathers and other features. We band our ducks so that we can see how many migrate in and where some of them migrate to. I had the best day today! I still can’t believe this is my job!