The 50 Ducks Story
March 17, 2023
Every year my dad and I go to Venice Louisiana on a hunting trip. As with all waterfowl trips south of the Dakotas, some years are, good some years are bad. Why Is that? As our boat was stuck on a mud flat in the Louisiana marsh I had plenty of time to reflect on my lack of understanding of waterfowl movement.
I went home with a desire to learn more about the way ducks move. I stumbled upon an article about biologists in Louisiana tracking waterfowl with GPS backpack devices. With a little research, I learned that throughout North and Central America thousands of ducks and geese are banded with GPS telemetry equipment every year. This data provides invaluable insight used for a myriad of scientific reasons. However, this data is not making its way to the casual observer… After reading dozens of academic papers on waterfowl telemetry I realized that one of the reasons for this is that these papers are written for other scientists. For the most part, these papers are not intended to be read by the general population.
I hope that by simplifying the data and making it user-friendly everyday outdoorsmen will become more enthusiastic and knowledgeable regarding waterfowl movements. To make this dream a reality our father-son team added three of Georgia’s most knowledgeable conservationists and wildlife biologists. Fred Granitz, Terry Johnson, and Reggie Thackston. The team was in place and 50 Ducks was formed.
50 Ducks platform was created with two goals: 1.) Create a more well-informed public as to the general movements of waterfowl. 2.) Provide an exciting and interactive platform that can be used in lower, middle, and high school curriculums to create lifelong waterfowl conservationists.
Over the next year, we reached out to dozens of researchers and institutions to discuss using their ongoing waterfowl GPS data to build the 50 Ducks platform. We did this with little success.
We decided if no one would provide us with live data we would tag our own… This led to a whole different set of obstacles and challenges that I will follow up on in subsequent post… After almost two years and a lot of help from countless individuals, we are thrilled to introduce the 50 Ducks platform to the world.
For the first time, the public can live stream waterfowl movements. With real-time migration data provided by 50 Ducks, the student, birder, wildlife enthusiast, and waterfowler will gain a better understanding and appreciation of waterfowl migration and daily movements. We hope this will translate into a greater base of knowledge with correspondingly greater respect for the resource.
With partners across the continent, 50 Ducks can band birds year-round in all four major flyways. Within the next few years, we will have aggregated millions of data points across dozens of species with hundreds of tagged waterfowl.
We hope that you will join us on this conservation-fueled mission as we try to understand this magical creature that has captivated outdoor enthusiasts for generations.
Maybe 50 Ducks will change the way thousands of people understand waterfowl. Or maybe next time I am stuck in the mud I will just have a little more to think about…
But either way, it is worth a shot.