Written by Alexa Martinez/ Photos by Dan Streiffert
Each year the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service conduct the Migratory Bird Parts Collection Survey, often referred to as the Wing Survey or Wingbee. This survey is used to obtain detailed information about the harvest of migratory game birds including species, age, and sex composition. The wingbee is part of the Parts Collection Survey where cooperators classify the bird parts (wings and tails) voluntarily submitted by hunters. The annual wingbee in each flyway is fully dependent on the cooperation of participants from government agencies, universities, and other organizations.
This year I had the opportunity to attend the Pacific Flyway Wingbee, conducted at the Coleman National Fish Hatchery southeast of Anderson, CA. I had no idea what I was expecting from this event. All I knew was I was going to be looking at wings for a whole week. The wingbee was more than just looking at wings. It was a great learning opportunity for biologists, technicians, law enforcement officers, and others to learn about different characteristic found on waterfowl species.
I felt confident going into the wingbee with the waterfowl skills I currently have, but the first day I was there, I definitely knew there was going to be some improvement. I have participated in duck banding at Bosque Del Apache NWR in NM, Summer Lake Wildlife Area, and Malheur NWR and I never really realized the finer details each waterfowl species may have. During duck banding you are constantly processing through ducks because more are always on their way. At the wingbee you do not have that sense of rush, you can take your time to really look at different parts of a ducks wing. Throughout the week, I witnessed my waterfowl identification improving each day. It was amazing to feel my self-confidence grow in a such an applicable skillset.
The event was so interesting to me. I was able to meet with different people throughout the whole Pacific Flyway, including areas in Alaska. The beauty about the wingbee was not only the educational side of it, but seeing everyone come together to help with this collection survey. Being able to spend time with some really amazing and passionate people reminded me of why I got into this field in the first place. I am not sure how to thank Migratory Birds and my supervisor for letting me part take in this incredible opportunity. I hope I have this opportunity opened to me again in the future!