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American Pintail on Palmyra Island

Frederick C. Lincoln
Publication Information
6 (November-December)
From Field and Study

American Pintail on Palmyra Island.-“On or about November 5th, 1942, a flock of wild ducks, consisting of two species, arrived on this island at approximately 6 a.m. This flock was in a very exhausted condition, and without much effort were all picked up and placed behind a wire fence, properly fed, and allowed to rest and to recover. One bird had a leg tag with the following numbers stamped into same, ‘40-693910.’ It was interesting to note that these birds had flown a considerable distance, and if it is permissible, I would like very much to know where this particular bird was tagged, and its migration habits.”

The foregoing letter. signed bv Ensien Arthur R. Mumbv. U.S.N.. was dulv received bv the Fish - I - II and Wildlife Ser&e. Investigation revealed a remarkable flight by an American Pintail, Dafika acuto teitziiroa. This bird, a drake, was one of the many victims of botulism at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in northeastern Utah. Successfully treated at the refuge hospital, it made a complete recovery and was banded and liberated on August 1.5, 1942, by the refuge superintendent, Vanez T. Wilson. The elapsed time between banding and recapture was 82 days.

While Palmyra Island is administratively a part of the Territory of Hawaii, it is about five degrees north of the equator in the Line Island group, nearly 1100 miles south of Honolulu. A case of this kind promotes speculation and since Ensign Murphy reports that this bird and its companions were so totally exhausted that they were readily captured, it seems reasonable to assume that Palmyra was the first “land fall” the birds had made since leaving the coast of North America. The overwater fight was in excess of 3000 miles and the total tlight from the Bear River marshes must have been about 3600 miles.-FREDERICK C. LINCOLN, Fish and Wildlife. Service, Washington, D.C., August 28,1943. 

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