What you likely know: The recent contest to select artwork for the 2022–2023 Federal Duck Stamp stirred late night laughs with a satirical painting of a duck hunting a human hunter. What you may not know: The Federal Duck Stamp serves as more than a conservation tool or a cool collector’s item. Did you know that a current duck stamp will grant you free access to any national wildlife refuge that charges an entry fee? And, the stamp supports conservation efforts for birds beyond waterfowl.
About the Stamp
While the Federal Duck Stamp is required for hunters age 16 and older, many birders, photographers, and other nature enthusiasts also purchase the stamp to support wildlife habitat conservation. Since 1934, Federal Duck Stamp sales have raised more than $1 billion. For every dollar spent on a duck stamp, 98 cents goes directly to help acquire and protect wetland habitat and purchase conservation easements for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Wetlands acquired with duck stamp dollars help purify water, aid in flood control, reduce soil erosion and sedimentation, and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities. The 2021-2022 stamp features a lesser scaup and is available for purchase through a variety of outdoor retailers, wildlife refuges, some post offices, and the American Birding Association.
What Birds Benefit from the Revenue?
In addition to waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans), many other birds have benefited directly from stamp revenues. Among them are waterbirds (including western grebe, least bittern, yellow rail, and black tern), shorebirds (such as black-necked stilt, American avocet, whimbrel, red knot, and Wilson’s phalarope), raptors (swallow-tailed kite, Swainson’s hawk, and golden eagle), and wetland-associated songbirds (vermilion flycatcher, sedge wren, prothonotary warbler, LeConte’s sparrow, and tricolored blackbird).
In fact, the birds you may see coming through your yard or your local park in spring or fall may have depended on a duck-stamp-supported national wildlife refuge for nesting or stopover protection.
Moreover, many spectacular refuges for bird watching have been bought using mostly stamp dollars. Such fine birding refuges as Santa Ana (Texas), Horicon (Wisconsin), Bombay Hook (Delaware), Bosque del Apache (New Mexico), and Parker River (Massachusetts) owe most of their existence to the stamp.