In the time since our last post, we have welcomed 36 newcomers to the island. Our new friends are little, fuzzy, and cute as can be- the Great Black-backed Gull chicks.
One goal of our monitoring project is to calculate chick survival rates of A chick, B chick and C chick. Thus, previous to hatching, we labeled each egg in the clutch with numbers and took measurements for length, width, and mass. With this information, we are able to make correlations between the sizes of the eggs and the survival of the chicks.
In order to keep track of which chicks survive, we give each chick a color- chick A is black, chick B is blue, and chick C is white. When the birds first hatch they are too small for the colored poultry bands used to identify them, so we color their bellies for their first week to determine which chick is which.
Later this summer when their legs are large enough for our field readable bands, we will have a chick banding week similar to that of the adult banding week we had a few weeks ago. During this week we’ll take blood samples, put federal and field readable bands on their legs, and take measurements. This will allow use to continue monitoring the birds throughout the winter and in the following years.