When cold December nights begin to freeze local ponds and lakes, most waterfowl hunters are packing away their guns and digging out the ice augers. But there are a few hardy souls that brave the bitter temperatures in pursuit of goldeneyes. Also known as whistlers or ice ducks, these rugged diving ducks are the often the last migratory birds found on Lake Champlain as fall gives way to winter, and they offer some of the hottest hunting of the year.
Over-harvesting in the 18th century combined with loss of natural habitat nearly lead to the extinction of the North American Wood Duck. But thanks to conservation efforts such as the construction and installation of wood duck boxes in wetlands this beautiful bird has had a resurgence. In this segment we tag along with District Wildlife Biologist John Mlcuch as he visits State-maintained duck boxes in Vermont and learn about the nesting habits of the North American "woodie."
- Ducks Unlimited - Duck Box Page
- Northern Prairie Wildlife Research
Center - Ducks at a Distance Waterfowl
- Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife
- For VT wood duck box info,
call: Bill Crenshaw, 802-879-5699
A few years ago, duck hunter and homicide detective for the Vermont State Police, Tim Bombardier, decided to try carving duck decoys. Eight hundred decoys later, he's still at it. We recently spent a day with Tim learning about what goes into building a useable decoy and then put them to the test on Shelburne Pond.
The Missisquoi National Wildlife Management Refuge is home to one of the largest and most productive waterfowl habitats in Vermont. Although the refuge attracts waterfowl most of the year, peak use is in the fall when more than 20,000 ducks are anticipated annually. Thanks to a managed hunting program, duck hunters can enjoy an experience like no other in Vermont. Host Lawrence Pyne joins hunter Dave Greenough for a day of duck hunting at the Refuge.
When the marshes and ponds freeze over in November, most duck hunters hang up their guns for the season. But a few hardy waterfowlers continue to enjoy good hunting well into December on the broad waters of Lake Champlain. Late season hunting on the big lake is not for everyone. It can be numbingly cold and more than a little dangerous. But it is a uniquely beautiful time of year to be on the lake, especially when flocks of whistlers or mallards or even geese come sailing out of the snow squalls and gusts across the icy water. Host Lawrence Pyne joins the Farnham family of South Hero in their unique "rock blind" on the shores of Lake Champlain for an afternoon of duck hunting.
The first record of banding birds in North America dates back to 1803 when John James Audubon tied silver cords to the legs of phoebes. This allowed him to identify two of the nestlings when they returned the following year. It wasn’t until 1902 when the first scientific system of banding began in North America. In the early 1900’s concerns over the declining numbers of waterfowl, passenger pigeons and over harvesting of egrets for their plumes resulted in an international agreement to manage migratory birds. Over the past century banding data has been a critical tool used to manage waterfowl. Banding birds requires capturing them and when it comes to waterfowl the most effective method is the use of rocket netting.
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