May 2015: Banding the Chicks (page 2 of 2)
7. While one team was working on Weber, an adult albatross happened to pass by. He has a kind of “been there, done that” attitude.
8. Seconds later he stopped next to another chick about to go through the process. They both watched what was happening to Weber.
9. Sure enough, that chick was next. Here they apply one of the two bands, the large tag which can be read easily with binoculars without getting too close to the bird. On the other leg, they place a smaller aluminum band engraved with an U.S. Fish and Wildlife number. Being metal and crimped into place, this band is less likely to be pulled off, but the bird must be captured to read it.
10. After the bands are applied, they pull several feathers from the chest area to be sent to a lab for DNA testing. Sexing of the albatross is difficult, even with physical examination. The easiest method is to determine the sex by the lab results. While some nicknames given by homeowners imply sex, we really don't know. Results are not known for a while. But it is possible that Fern may really be a Fernando.
11. H061 is released and glad to be free, stretching his (or her) wings. This photo shows that the wing feathers are almost fully formed, although still covered in baby fuzz.
12. A close-up reveals the beauty of these feathers with a few tufts of baby fuzz. Their wings are also full adult size – a full six foot wingspan.
13. Peace returns to the neighborhood. The teams are gone.
Finally, last month I reported on “Lucky”, whose father was killed at sea. The volunteer has started hand feeding Lucky to supplement the efforts of the surviving parent to keep the chick healthy. The single parent cannot make enough trips to sustain a chick, who would have probably died without intervention. This assistance is working. The chick is normal in weight and size, developing in all ways expected at this stage. Good job!