Monday, May 20, 2013

3 Weeks Old - Banding Day Tomorrow!

Age and warm weather has the chick--now 3 weeks old--spending more time out of the nestbox!  Here's a nice video clip that shows the chick in action yesterday!  Of note are the dark, juvenile feathers starting to come in the wings and tail as well as increased coordination with walking, pecking and flapping.    

Tomorrow is the "big day" when "Zoom" will be equipped with metal leg bands.  We will live stream the event via the nestbox feed beginning about 10 a.m.  During the actual banding work will be done on the nestbox so the ledgecam video feed (after we remove the chick from the nestbox) will be suspended during the banding.
**This afternoon our videographers will be testing cameras for the event so there may be temporary interruptions in the live feed today.**
When we remove the chick from the nest it will be given a brief examination for overall health.  At that time it will be determined (based on size) if the chick is a male or female.   As is true with most birds of prey, the females are larger than the males.  So much so, that females actually require a larger size leg band than the males.

Zoom will receive a band on each leg.  Even though the chick has some growing to do yet, at 3 weeks of age its legs are about the size they will be as an adult so bands can be safely put on the legs.  Bands are lightweight and fit loosely much like a human would wear a bracelet.  The right leg will be fitted with a USGS band which has a multi digit number (think of it like a social security number) unique to that falcon.  This band is usually not able to be read unless the bird is in hand.  That's why peregrines often also get a second leg band, called a "color band."  This band will be put on the left leg and will be black on the top, red on the bottom.  Color bands have only a few number/letter digits and allow for identifying the bird at a distance.  The color combo (black over red) is unique to Ohio. 

Banding is done for research purposes - because these bands will stay on the bird for life, they will help identify this bird wherever it may be seen again.  Leg band reports reveal information about bird migrations, survival and behaviors, and are a very important research tool.  It is stressful to all involved (falcons and humans both!) when we remove the chick from the nest but we take precautions to keep disturbance to a minimum and the event brief.  In the big picture, a few minutes out of this chick's day will contribute substantially to what we know about peregrines, as well as help to educate and increase awareness of all who are able to share the event with us either in person or online.