How to Band A Duck


In the above image my daughter releases a banded duck. She has been trapping and banding ducks with her father since she could walk. Banding is a way to capture part of a duck’s story. We discover their migratory path, where they live, but mostly banding tells us a story about their survival and mortality.

To band a duck, we first have to rise at predawn to wait in the brush while one person sits in a blind to shoot the net over the ducks. Then, you take a hold of each duck, band it with the help of others, and finally, you release the bird back into the wild.DSCN1214

Sounds a bit like parenthood.

And what it takes to capture a story.

My daughter is about to be released into the wild of her adult life. And I hold my hand out open and wide as she takes flight. Our genetics and family bond have banded her to us; I know I will be able to follow the story of her life up until my story here is complete. Like a book in a series, book one is coming to an end. Fortunately the story is such a rich one, I expect to enjoy the next book of her young adulthood.

I also have my own story to live and write. This writing gives me reason too to rise at predawn, wait in the brush for the right words to emerge so that I can send the metaphorical net over the idea and band them to the page. I want to capture as much of the story as possible, with its flights and landings, with its beginnings, middles and endings.

Many of us don’t like endings.

But isn’t the ending the reason we read through an entire book? We want to see how it ends. And, how we end things (stages of life, books, relationships), either opens or closes the door to future possibilities. My first spiritual teacher said to be mindful and skillful in our good-byes. We want to say good-bye in ways that allow for us to meet up with this person again. We want our endings to be as rich and abundant as our beginnings (and middles!).

I want all my endings to be an example to my daughter, and to others, on how a real duck lives and dies.

I want my stories to have endings that offer a way for me and the reader to take flight into another story.

After all, the story of our life is a series of catches, banding, and releases.more.banding


“On motionless wing they emerge from the lifting mists, sweep a final arc of sky, and settle in clangorous descending spirals to their feeding grounds. A new day has begun on the crane marsh.”  –Aldo Leopold, Sand County Almanac



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