My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Goose Roundup

July 6, 2016

Early Wednesday morning, I got a call from Kirsten, our biotechs, asking if I wanted to come, RIGHT NOW,  and help with the goose roundup. I rushed to the office and found everyone was about to leave, and I couldn't help with the kayak herding, but could help from the bank and with the actual banding. So I raced back to the house and grabbed a hat and water and went dressed as I was, in my shorts and water shoes, which I often wear as slippers.

We traveled down the highway to an entrance to Lake Sealy. As we got to the beginning of the lake, we waited for the three kayakers to get in the water and start the drive. Meanwhile the Youth Conservation Corp (YCC) kids and their leaders had sneaked in to the far side of the lake and one of the leaders, Chris, was in his boat, waiting for the geese to show up in their area. Then the rest of us got out of our car and lined up along the road to wait for the geese and kayakers to appear. Then we walked along the edge of the lake to keep the geese more to the middle until they reached the bottom of the lake where the kayakers drove them into a trap on the levee. We all surrounded the trap to keep the geese from rushing the fence and then picked them up by getting a grip on them at the root of their wings and put them into the waiting pens.

The pen was on the levy- Some of the YCC kids are in the background

From there, we loaded them into pens,  then took turns getting them out, sexing them, then putting a band on them, except for one that had already been banded. We were finished with the whole endeavor in less than two and a half hours. This was a much smaller endeavor, both scope and numbers of birds than are the scaup roundups at Red Rock Lakes NWR. There we survey thousands of ducks in 9 days of roundups. And we weigh them, measure the distance from the back of their heads to their bills and also the length of their tarsus. And, if we catch adult females, who will come back to the refuge to breed, we mark them with colored shapes on a wire through their bills. This allows us to gather information about them in successive years without having to recapture them. If you missed that story, click the link above. 

Me hauling a goose from the pen to the banders

Biologist, Ray helping a YCC girl band her goose. 

Murray is our other biologist - he's also helping with the band

Me getting my goose in place to be sexed

Sexing the goose- I had a male

Getting help with the banding

One of the interesting things I learned is that Moosehorn actually brought Canada geese to the refuge many years ago. In the central flyway, they are regarded more like weeds, than as a valued species.  But they seem to only be here in small numbers, even though they and wood ducks seem to be the most numerous breeders of our water birds. 

And since everybody gave me pictures of me, I even look like I stared in the roundup. But I actually only helped keep the geese in the middle of the lake and herded into the pen, then helped remove them from the pens and give them to the YCC kids except for the two I banded with help. 

The end of a few hours of fun - we released the geese all at once - since this was the last one, I just held it until we dumped the rest out of the pens. 

I'm joining Wild Bird Wednesday.  Click on the picture to read more wild bird blogs from around the world.