The annual public duck banding night at Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Minnesota is set for 5 p.m. Sept. 8. In case of rain or ground conditions that are too wet, the alternate date is 5:30 p.m. Sept. 17.
No pre-registration is required, and the event is free to the public.
Banding ducks is a “hands on” experience, and Agassiz personnel recommend old clothing or rain gear for anyone planning to band or handle birds because banding ducks can be a little, ahem, messy.
Those who would rather watch should bring cameras. Few events will offer better close-up wildlife photo opportunities.
It’s been a few years since I last attended a duck-banding at the refuge, but the annual event brings many “repeat” banders. Newcomers will have an opportunity to learn about the life history of several duck species, baiting, capture, and handling techniques, as well as sexing and aging techniques. Mallards make up the bulk of the banded birds, with a few wood ducks, blue-winged teal, and northern pintails mixed in, as well.
Agassiz bands an average of 1,500 ducks per year.
Anyone planning to take in the banding night should meet at refuge headquarters located 11 miles east of Holt, Minn., on Marshall County Road 7 (290th Street Northeast). For more information, call (218) 449-4115, ext. 204 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday or dial 0 for operator assistance.