LEWISTOWN, Ill.--Click here for today's column on banding bluebills on the backwaters of the lower Illinois River; with a series of photos here.
Ducks Unlimited biologist Eric Schenck made sure I had a hands-on experience.
We started at Emiquon Preserve, The Nature Conservancy's great experiment/restoration by the Illinois.
Scaup (bluebills) were drawn into baited traps.
Then a mix of workers from IDNR, Illinois Natural History Survey, TNC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service netted the birds and transferred them to crates.
Once in crates, they were taken back to Forbes Biological Station for banding and release. The bird below was already banded when trapped.
We also checked three traps at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge on the other side of the river.
The question is what the study on bluebill migrations and feeding habits will end up discovering.
It was quite the experience to have up close.