Monday, May 18, 2015

Banding Day!

The chicks were banded this morning and all went well.  When we removed the chicks from the nest they were given a brief examination for overall health.  All looked great!  Part of the exam is to determine (based on size) if the chicks are 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.  This year's clutch contains one male and 2 females.

The chicks received a band on each leg. Even though the chicks still have some growing to do yet, at this age their 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 was fitted with a silver 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 was put on the left leg and is 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.
Here are the students who submitted the winning names:  Bolt, Flash and Storm.  We will post band numbers in the near future.
While we were on the ledge we cleaned the nestbox cam lens...hopefully, the chicks will not soil it again.  This video was captured when the chicks were returned to the nestbox after the banding.

The next major milestone is fledging!  The chicks will take their first flight at about 40 days of age - that will be during the first week of June.   The next two weeks we will see their white fluffy down replaced with brown juvenile feathers.  Isn't it amazing how fast they grow?