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Nasal saddles

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Two-thirds of the birds we ring are also fitted with a soft plastic nasal saddle. These marks are cut into cattle ear tags, yellow for Camargue Teal and lime green for birds marked at other sites. Marks have a one or two signs (letters and numbers alike) code, similar on both sides of the bill, plus a third one on the front for some birds. Our phone number is on the back of each mark : people finding a dead marked Teal or hunting one can therefore easily report the information.


 In order to facilitate coordination between research teams, and two avoid the same codes and colours being used twice, all the duck marking programs in Europe are coordinated by Dr David Rodrigues, from the Politechnical Institute of Coimbra in Portugal (see his web pages on duck marking :


The goal of using nasal saddles is to get information on individuals without needing to catch them again (as opposed to metal rings). It is therefore easier to get quickly a larger set of observations. For example, 20% of the birds we only ringed have been recaptured alive or shot and reported, while we have at least one data (dead recovery, live recapture or resighting of the nasal saddle) for almost 50% of the birds we marked.



Marks are fitted to the bill with a nylon string through the nostrils. Teal do not have nasal walls, so this operation is not invasive and do not represent a traumatism to the bird. This method has therefore been used for more than 30 years in North America, and several years in Europe (up to now, only Portugal and the Check Republic). We have tested the effect of nasal saddles on body condition and behaviour of the birds, and could not detect significant differences between marked and unmarked birds, neither in the aviary nor in the wild.





• Fouque, C., Guillemain, M., Leray, G., Joyeux, E., Mondain-Monval, J.Y., & Schricke, V. 2005. Distribution des effectifs hivernaux de sarcelle d’hiver Anas crecca en France et tendances d’évolution sur les 16 derniers hivers. Faune sauvage 267 : 19-30.


• Guillemain, M., Arzel, C., Mondain-Monval, J.Y., Schricke, V., Johnson, A.R. & Simon, G. 2006. Spring migration dates of Teal ringed in the Camargue, Southern France. Wildlife Biology 12 : 163-170.


• Guillemain, M., Poisbleau, M., Denonfoux, L., Lepley, M., Moreau, C., Massez, G., Leray, G., Caizergues, A., Arzel, C., Rodrigues, D. & Fritz, H. 2007. Multiple tests of the effect of nasal saddles on dabbling ducks : combining field and aviary approaches. Bird Study. 54 : 35-45.


• Guillemain, M., Lepley, M., Massez, G., Caizergues, A., Rodrigues, D. & Figueiredo, M. 2008. Addendum : Eurasian Teal Anas crecca nasal saddle loss in the Camargue, France. Bird Study 55 : 135-138.


• Guillemain, M., Sadoul, N. & Simon, G. 2005. European flyway permeability and abmigration in Teal (Anas crecca), based on ringing recoveries. Ibis 147 : 688-696.


• Guillemain, M., Dehorter, O., Johnson, A.R. & Simon, G. 2005. A test of the wintering strategy hypothesis with teal (Anas crecca) ringed in the Camargue, southern France. Journal of Ornithology, 146(2) : 184-187.


 • Calvo, B. & Furness, R.W. 1992. A review of the use and the effects of marks and devices on birds. Ringing and Migration 13 : 129-151.


• Doty, H.A. & Greenwood, R.J. 1974. Improved nasal-saddle marker for Mallards. J. Wildl. Manage. 38 : 938-939.


• Evrard, J.P. 1996. Effects of nasal saddles on mallards and blue-winged teal. Wild. Soc. Bull. 24 : 717-721.


• Greenwood, R.J. 1977. Evaluation of a nasal marker for ducks. J. Wildl. Manage. 41 : 582-585.


• Howerter, D.W., Joynt, B.L., Emery, R.B., Sankowski, T.P. 1997. Effects of nasal discs on nesting by Mallards. J. Field Ornithol. 68 : 1-6.


• Lokemoen, J.T. & Sharp, D.E. 1985. Assessment of nasal marker materials and designs used on dabbling ducks. Wild. Soc. Bull. 13 : 53-56.

• McKinney, F. & Derrickson, S. 1979. Aerial scratching, leeches and nasal saddles in Green-winged Teal. Wildfowl 30 : 151-153.


• Rodrigues, D.J.C., Fabiao, A.M.D. & Figueiredo, M.E.M.A. 2001. The use of nasal markers for monitoring Mallard populations. In Field, R., Waren, R.J., Okarma, H. & Sievert, P.R. (eds.). Wildlife, land, and people : priorities for the 21st century. Proceedings of the second International Wildlife Management Congress : 316-318. The Wildlife Society, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Last updated May 18th, 2009