Tracking the Movement of Two Blue-Winged Teal in April of 2023: A Detailed Analysis

Tracking the movement of ducks - 50 ducks

In our inaugural month of waterfowl tracking, we closely monitored the movements of two GPS-tagged Blue-winged Teal. Both waterfowl’s movements are illustrated in the attached images.

At first glance, it might seem that Duck 1 traveled a considerably longer distance than Duck 2. However, after delving deeper into the data, we arrived at the following conclusions.

Duck 1, affectionately nicknamed “Fat Daddy” on our live stream, moved a total of 48.51 kilometers between April 5th and April 30th. During this period, he registered a total of 637 useable data points. Fat Daddy averaged a movement of 76.16 meters per hour, with a maximum one-hour journey length of 1,202 meters and a minimum journey length of 1.01 meters (quite a lazy hour). Fat Daddy spent his month split between 4 separate water bodies. He spent his first 9 days on a 5.5-acre pond and would head west 300 meters about an hour before sunset every night to two smaller bodies of water both less than 1 acre in total. For the later part of the month, he moved to a new body of water west of the original daytime-use water body. He continued to utilize the two smaller water bodies and surrounding areas for nighttime roosting.

Tracking the movement of ducks - 50 ducks

Duck 2, represented on our map as “MJ,” had a total movement of 42.09 kilometers. Interestingly, he achieved this distance while only leaving the vicinity of the same 5.5-acre pond once! Although his long-range movement was significantly more restricted than Fat Daddy’s, he only moved 14% less in total. MJ’s one long-range trip occurred on April 8th, covering 1,344 meters, while none of his other trips exceeded 367 meters. In contrast, Fat Daddy had six instances of movement over 700 meters.

Mainly what we learned in the first month is that waterfowl are creatures of habit and as long as they are not disturbed they stick to the status quo.

In May, our Blue-winged Teal should begin their migration north to their nesting grounds. We eagerly anticipate analyzing flight data for their northward journey next month!

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