Canadian Wingbee: National Expertise
During the annual Wingbee, scientists examine wings sent by hunters.
© Environment Canada
From January 25 to 28, 2011, Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) held its annual Canadian Wingbee at the Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area. The Wingbee brought together some 20 CWS scientists and other waterfowl experts from all across the country to examine thousands of duck wings. The purpose of the meeting was to establish a picture of the health and abundance of migratory bird species considered to be game in Canada.
Every year, CWS undertakes two sample selections with the collaboration of hunting licence holders listed on the national hunting licences register. The first group of hunters is invited to answer a survey that gathers information on hunting activities and the number of birds brought down. The second group of hunters has to send, in an envelope, a wing from each duck brought down over the season so that harvest composition can be assessed. These wings are the samples examined during the Wingbee.
Pierre Brousseau, a migratory bird biologist with CWS in Quebec, was one of the organizers of the 2011 Wingbee. “The Wingbee gives biologists and project managers at the Canadian Wildlife Service, and scientists and experts from other organizations a unique chance to sit down at the same table and share scientific knowledge during a practical activity focused on waterfowl specimens,” Pierre says.
Pierre, his CWS colleagues and other scientists examined some 11 000 samples sent in by hunters. Wings were analyzed to determine the species as well as the sex and age of migratory birds brought down in each region of the country.
The Canadian Wingbee has been held annually for over 30 years and is organized as part of the National Harvest Survey run by the Migratory Birds Program. The activity takes place in January and is held on a rotating basis from year to year at the various regional or provincial CWS offices. The information gathered during this ambitious count is vital for the management of the annual hunt of birds that are classified as game throughout the country and also for the annual review of related regulations.
“The most abundant species examined during this activity are the Mallard, the American Black Duck, the Green-winged Teal and the Wood Duck. We occasionally see wings from rarer species such as the Eurasian Wigeon, Barrow’s Goldeneye, the Ruddy Duck and the King Eider.”
The results of the 2011 Canadian Wingbee will be published in spring.
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