National Harvest Survey: wingbee

The name "Wingbee" was chosen to represent the annual event where experts from the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) and representatives of other wildlife agencies and the public gather to sort through duck and woodcock wings and goose tail feathers sent in by hunters. The objective is to identify the species, age, and sex of all birds from which the samples were taken.

Here are some facts about the Wingbee and the use of the Species Composition Survey data:

General facts

Over 15 000 wings are processed annually at the Wingbee.

  • Species most commonly seen at the Wingbee include:
    • Mallard
    • American Black Duck
    • Wood Duck
    • Green-winged Teal
  • Other popular species obtained from hunters include:
    • Canada Goose
    • Snow Goose

The Wingbee is organized by the National Harvest Survey Coordinator in collaboration with regional CWS offices. It is held during January or February at a different regional or provincial CWS office each year:

  • Delta, BC
  • Saskatoon, SK
  • London, ON
  • Sainte-Foy, QC
  • Sackville, NB, or St. John's, NL

How wings are identified

  • Expert checkers have extensive bird banding experience and have handled hundreds to thousands of birds of many species.
  • Experience in banding birds of known age and sex enables checkers to learn, improve, or develop the identification keys that are used to determine the species, sex, and age classes of the samples.
  • Features of feathers used in identification include colour, colour patterns, shape, wear, and size. Other factors used in identification are the presence of replacement feathers, date of harvest, and measurements of wings and tails.
  • The identification key developed by Samuel M. Carney is frequently used when identifying waterfowl by wing plumage characteristics. See the Carney key.

Uses of data from the Species Composition Survey (SCS)

  • SCS data supplement Harvest Questionnaire Survey data and provide various pieces of information essential for the management of migratory game birds. Information includes:
    • species composition of the harvest (relative abundance and harvest);
    • population structure (age ratios, sex ratios), used to track long-term trends in population productivity;
    • geographic distribution of the hunt by species;
    • regional variation in hunting activity; and
    • areas where birds moult their feathers.
  • SCS data are published in the annual population status report on migratory game birds in Canada. This document is used as a reference during the annual regulatory review process. Another major use of the data is for the international reporting of the harvest to flyway councils.
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