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Migrational homing by a pair of mallards

January 1, 1973

It is generally assumed that wild, North American female dabbling ducks (Anatinae: Anatini) select new mates each year and may return to the same nesting areas in consecutive years (McKinney 1964, Wildfowl 16: 93). Lincoln (1934, Bird-Banding 5: 151) first documented migrational homing in a female Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), and Sowls (1955, Prairie ducks, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Stackpole Co., pp. 25-45), working with color-marked birds, established that female Pintails (A. acuta), Gadwalls (A. strepera), Shovelers (A. clypeata), and Blue-winged Teal (A. discors) also return to previously used nesting areas. Black-bellied Tree Ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis), in the same subfamily as the true geese (Anserinae), not only home to previously used nesting sites, but also retain the same mates in consecutive years (Bolen 1971, J. Wildl. Mgmt. 35: 386). Instances are recorded of males in the subfamily Anatinae returning to the same locality in consecutive years (Sowls, ibid.; Lewis Cowardin, pers. comm.), but no information exists on the homing of pairs.

During the course of a study on the social behavior and habitat use of various dabbling ducks in North Dakota, we documented the migrational homing of a pair of Mallards. On 6 May 1971 we captured a pair of Mallards in a cannon-net trap and affixed numbered nasal saddles and a miniature radio transmitter to both the hen and drake. The drake's transmitter failed in a few days, but the hen's transmitter allowed us to locate the pair several times until 2 June 1971. Our last record for the hen was on 15 June 1971. We never found a nest site, and feel that she did not raise a brood.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1973
Title Migrational homing by a pair of mallards
DOI 10.2307/4084181
Authors T.J. Dwyer, S.R. Derrickson, D.S. Gilmer
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title The Auk
Index ID 1007663
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center; Western Ecological Research Center