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Huntin&Fishin

How to tell a Ducks age?

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You can only tell if a bird is hatch year or after hatch year based on physical appearance. It takes some time to properly identify the correct characteristics. I know the feathers of the tail can work earlier in the season but after that, during the bulk of the hunting, it gets much more difficult. I learned this last year in one of my college classes and I am no pro, nor do I want to give out descriptions of the features being that I am not sure of the age identification myself. I will go look for my old papaers I kept from last year to get a more precise answer.

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Ok so one way to tell HY or AHY is to look at the tertial feathers that are located nearest to the body when the wing is outstretched. If they are rounded and wide, it is an adult male bird but birds can always lose feathers and replace them so it is never certain. If the 4 outermost primary coverts have a buffy edge that can help to identify an immature bird. For the tail feathers, look at the tip and if the feather continues to the end, it can be AHY but again, I learned these when we went to band ducks in September of last year so my memory is a little sketchy.

A good HSOforum to use for a guide of age, sex, and species.

http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/duckplum/index.htm

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There is no easy way. Fresh feathers every year. I was lucky enough to get to work on a Stellars Eider banding project in Izembek NWR in the 90's. We recovered unreadable aluminum bands where the numbers were impossible to read. They were able to come up with the band id through acid etching. That was pretty neat. One of the biologists was working on trying to age birds through measurements but never heard what came of this. Certainly, the 15 year banded birds were in no easy way different from the others.

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