Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society

Duck and Songbird Banding  

The biological staff and volunteers of the Mid-Columbia River Refuges Complex have participated in the banding of migratory songbirds and ducks for five years.  


 Viewers are shown duck calling techniques by an expert from Ducks Unlimited

A kid gets to hold a banded duck prior to its release.

Duck Banding at McNary Wildlife Refuge


This program provides information on life history, population numbers and migration routes.  The information goes into a data base for use in determining hunting regulations and species protection.


The metal band placed around the duck's leg has a number unique to that bird.  The bander usually takes information on species, sex and approximate age.  All the U.S. banding information is sent to a Maryland laboratory.  When a hunter harvests a banded bird, he/she calls the 1-800 number on the band and reports the band number along with information on where and when the bird was taken.  In return, the hunter is sent a card telling where and when the bird was banded.  Ducks are generally banded in August when they are in eclipse plumage.  Ducks molt their feathers and are briefly flightless while they grow new feathers.  Birds banded at McNary Wildlife Refuge have been harvested as far away as Texas and even Mexico.


The Ducks Unlimited organization, McNary staff and Friends cosponsor the annual duck banding event.



MAPS Songbird Banding at McNary Wildlife Refuge

The songbird banding station is located in the riparian zone along the south side of the Walla Walla River on the Wallula Habitat Management Unit, and is coordinated by the Institute for Bird Populations.  With over 500 banding stations across North America, Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorshps (MAPS) is part of a multi-national study.  Mist nets hung in the usual avian flyways are used to capture birds for data accumulation and release.  In addition, the Wallula station's data provides refuge staff with trends of resident breeding birds.


Of the 100 target species listed in MAPS, 22 have been banded at Wallula.  MAPS provides long-term data on songbird life history, breeding and migration.  Non-target species such as quail, kestrals, northern flickers and yellow-breasted chats have also been captured at the site.  



Downy Woodpecker


Volunteers are encouraged to participate in banding and may contact the office of Friends of Mid-Columbia Wildlife Refuges, (509) 543-8322 for more information. 

Common Yellowthroat being compared to bird guide field marks

House Wren being extracted from mist net

Gray Catbird

Orange Crowned Warbler wing examined to estimate age


Orange Crowned Warbler held prior to release