Use of Rocket Netting and Airboat Nightlighting for Capturing Mottled Ducks in Texas

From June-August 1977, we compared the relative efficiency of airboat nightlighting and rocket netting for capturing mottled ducks (Anas fulvigula) along the Texas coast. We expended 151 rocket net hours in 15 rocket net shot attempts and captured 568 mottled ducks. Age class distribution of captured mottled ducks was 79% hatch-year and 21% after-hatch-year. The largest individual rocket net capture, using a double net, was 116 mottled ducks (60 hatch-year, 56 after-hatch-year). In addition to mottled ducks, 69 fulvous whistling ducks (Dendrocygna bicolor) and 34 black-bellied whistling ducks (D. autumnalis) were captured during rocket netting. We expended 56 airboat hours during 24 nightlighting trips and captured 581 mottled ducks. Age class distribution of captured mottled ducks was 53% locals, 29% hatch-year, and 18% after-hatch-year. The largest nightlighting capture was 101 mottled ducks (61 locals, 34 hatch-year, 6 after-hatch-year). We believe that rocket netting is an effective tool for capturing pre-season (June-September) mottled ducks and will prove valuable in capturing large numbers of molting adults. We believe that a combination of rocket netting and nightlighting will provide the most efficient and effective means of capturing a well distributed sample of mottled ducks for banding purposes.

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