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by Steve McCadams
January, 2008

    Want to hear an unusual story from a lucky duck hunter in Ruleville, MS? All duck hunters love to harvest banded ducks but Freddie Scott’s story takes the cake when it comes to banded birds.

     Back on January 3, Scott bagged a pintail while hunting on a farm in rural Mississippi.

    "It appeared to be stainless steel, and every band I have ever seen was aluminum in appearance." Scott said. "I showed it to my son and we were both in disbelief at what we were seeing; I didn't know what to make of it." 

    Biologists say the band Scott recovered on from a drake northern pintail near Ruleville, was banded in Japan!

   The band was different, unlike anything Freddie Scott had ever seen. And likely neither had any other American hunter, for that matter.

    After making several attempts to find the source of the band, Scott’s persistence paid off as state officials contacted the Bird Banding Laboratory under the umbrella of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Patuxent. MD. Mississippi biologist Jeffery Lee spoke with Dr. Paul Padding and Terry Liddick.

    Both biologists thought the pintail was indeed banded in Japan, and gave Lee the contact information for the Yamashina Institute of Ornithology's Bird Banding Research Center, located in Konoyama, Japan.

    Liddick would state in an email that in his three years at the lab, he had never been asked to verify a Japanese band — he knew it had to be rare.

    Lee forwarded the recovery information data sheet via email to the Japanese Bird Banding Institute that afternoon.

    "I could hardly sleep that night." Lee said. "I couldn't wait to get back to the office the next morning."

    When Lee checked his email, what had at first been thought near impossible was confirmed: The drake northern pintail was in fact banded on Hyoko Lake near Niigata, on the northwestern coast of Japan.

    The pintail had been banded on February 12, 2000, by Ryuhei Honma, a bird banding specialist for the Japanese Bird Banding Association, as part of an ongoing research project conducted by the Bird Banding Research Center.

    "I tried to find out more about the research they were doing in Japan." Lee continued. "The question I really wanted to know was if they had ever recovered a bird band in the Mississippi Flyway before."

    Keiko Yoshiyasu of the Japanese Bird Banding Association confirmed other birds banded in Japan had been recovered in five U.S. states, Alaska, California, Washington, Oregon, and Utah, with Utah being the farthest east any bird banded in Japan had traveled into the North America.

    Scott was amazed that he was actually in possession of one of the rarest bird band recoveries in history.

    "I have heard all of the Japanese duck jokes I can stand." Scott laughed as he continued. "Now I can have the last laugh."

    When asked what he was going to do with this rare piece of history, Scott said. "I am going to lock this band away in the safe deposit box for future generations of my family to hold and to talk about. How many duck hunters can say they have killed a duck banded in Japan?"


Steve McCadams is a professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris Landing area. He has also contributed many outdoor oriented articles to various national publications.



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