Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Banding Day!

Whew! we had a long day. The chicks were allowed to enjoy their morning in relative peace. Once we herded (enticed with grapes and all sorts of treats) all the chicks to the chick yard we let them relax for a short time before catching them up. We try to make the whole process as quick as possible to reduce stress. We'll pick up the bird, hood the bird (this calms them down), and silently take it to the banding station, which is out of sight of the other birds.
Richard and Marianne banding PJ

The bands are very colorful and we try to make them as light as possible. We try to keep in consideration the weight of the bands so it doesn't interfere with flight. For example, we generally give all the females both radio transmitters and satellite transmitters. This way we can confidently find all the females in our population (it's especially important because they may wander from the path on migration or we want to be able to find a nest if she has one). On of our females, Havarti, is very small. She was too small to wear both the radio transmitter and the satellite transmitter, so we gave one of the larger males (Roquefort) her satellite transmitter.

After getting their new bands, all the birds were busy investigating their legs. They pecked at the transmitter cords, pecked at the new silver 'ankle cuff,' pecked at their neighbors bands. Havarti tried to scratch her neck, but just let her leg fall short of scratching (I think) due to the new weight of the band. Despite all that, she was able to fly out of the chick yard with the others. I'm glad they were able to adapt so quickly. My supervisor was so impressed that we may release the chicks sooner.

We may release as soon as Thursday! yeah, two days! We'll see...

I'm so proud of my chickies today. :-D

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