November 06, 2022
The morning started slowly for Cheryl Dowil and her husband on a mid-December duck hunt in southern Missouri. That soon changed, however, when the birds started to fly. “We had been hunting for about an hour and a half in the flooded corn when I shot and retrieved my first duck of the day,” she recalled.
There was no time to admire or inspect what appeared to be just another greenhead. “I was in a hurry as the birds were really starting to work,” said Dowil. “I wanted to get settled back into the cover, so I handed the bird to my husband for help putting it on my duck carrier.” Though the birds kept working, the Dowils took a break when Cheryl’s husband announced, “Hey, this bird is banded.” She barely had time to react before he continued, “No it’s not; it’s doubled banded!” Cheryl got even more excited when she read the lettering and discovered the second, was a green $65 reward band. “I was so excited that I could hardly sit still,” she said.
Dowil’s band was part of an ongoing research project to estimate band reporting rates. Researchers first evaluated the effect of dollar value on reporting rate and learned that approximately $70 was sufficient to obtain a near perfect rate. From that they were able to extrapolate the reporting rate of standard bands by estimating the ratio of standard band recovery rate to the recovery rate of reward bands.
In 1995, the USGS Bird Banding Lab (BBL) switched from mail-in to toll-free reporting, and later to online reporting, and saw the recovery rate on standard bands climb to 82 percent.
Subsequent to the initial (1998-2001) pilot project, the BBL initiated a large-scale reward banding effort to provide a more comprehensive evaluation, including the effect of band value on reporting rates. While the money was a nice bonus for Dowil, the band was her real reward.
HUNTER: Cheryl Dowil
BAND #: 2137-04525
Reward Band: $65 Green with Yellow Type
SPECIES: Mallard (D)
LOCATION: Near Plumas, MB
LOCATION: Otter Slough Conservation Area, Missouri
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