The Condor/24 (6)/The Capture of Water-fowl in Fish Nets

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The Capture of Water-fowl in Fish Nets.—The recent note by Mr. Stanley G. Jewett[1] on the accidental capture of a White-winged Scoter (Oidemia deglandi) in a salmon net, is of particular interest in view of the fact that the Bureau of Biological Survey is giving attention to the use of nets to capture birds for banding purposes.[2]

As stated in the paper referred to in the accompanying foot-note, several forms of net traps have been successfully used, among them being the well-known "fyke" net. This contrivance is made by covering a series of tour iron hoops, three to tour test in diameter, with cord webbing. When fully extended the hoops are about two feet apart, and the web cylinder thus produced is divided into two chambers by means of web funnels. The first of these has a large mouth while the second is much reduced. Short wings or guides of webbing are extended from the mouth of the trap and the whole affair is held in place in shallow water by long stakes forced into the mud.

In the marshes of the Illinois River these nets are used extensively for the capture of carp, buffalo, and other fishes, an energetic fisherman frequently running a line of forty to fifty "tykes". The nets are placed in areas where large numbers of ducks gather to feed, and it is common to find halt a dozen mallards or pintails in a single net. During March, 1922, while engaged in banding work in this region, I made a practice of trying to beat the fisherman to the nets that were set in my neighborhood for the purpose of securing any ducks that might have been caught. Pintails were most frequently taken and it was noticeable that they were usually caught in flocks of tour to six, indicating that they fed in small groups. and were strongly inclined to "follow the leader".

In this connection, mention may also be made of a recent "return" from a Buffle-head duck that was banded by Mr. Verdi Burtch, at Branchport, New Ycrk, on April 6, 1922. Eleven days later (April 17) the bird was found entangled in a herring net in Georgian Bay near Coilingwood, Ontario.

The problem of evolving suitable methods for the capture of diving ducks for banding purposes will still require considerable experimentation, but present indications are that some form of a submerged net will prove most satisfactory. Such a device will, of course, require an arrangement that will bring captured birds safely to the surface after hey have entered the chambers or pockets of the trap.—Frederick C. Lincoln, U. S. Biological Survey, Washington, D. C., August 14, 1922.

  1. Condor, XXIV, May, 1922, p. 95.
  2. Auk, XXXIX, no. 3, July, 1922, pp. 322-334, pls. XI-XIV: "Trapping Ducks for Banding Purposes", by Frederick C. Lincoln.