They grow up so fast. đŸ˜˘

herring chicks

It seems like just yesterday that these herring gull chicks were born. They live outside of Hamilton, where the main office on Appledore is located, so everyone who ran into me that day made sure I knew the chicks had hatched; I had to tell them that while that’s great news and they sure are cute, I only monitor the nests of black-backed gulls!

In reality, these chicks are about two weeks old. Even without passing them every day and watching them grow up, you can guess a chick’s age based on the extent of the coloration and covering of their contour feathers, which cover the surface of their body.

Herring gull eggs hatch after 30-32 days of incubation. The chicks will then replace their down with feathers. After 42-48 days, they will be able to fly, or have fledged. Most fledging occurs in late July to early August. Though the two species are similar, black-backed chicks grow a little differently than herrings. They hatch from their eggs 21-28 days after incubation, and their time to fledging has been described as anywhere from 30-40 days to 7-8 weeks.

Chicks of both species will pass through several distinct plumage stages over the next four years before reaching adulthood and hopefully returning to Appledore to breed! Our next week has been dubbed “Chick Banding Week”: we will have a team of researchers, students, and volunteers working together to get bands on this year’s chicks before they are able to fly and we lose our chance!

Who’s in the mood for a chick flick?

ddf gull chicks

The first black-backed chicks of 2017 have hatched! The honor of being the first parents of the year belongs to 3P2 and 1R0 for the second year in a row. This couple has three fluffy chicks, but are too protective of their young to let us get pictures. The runner-ups are the unbanded parents of these adorable guys pictured above, who are located at Devil’s Dance Floor on Appledore.

The older of the two chicks has been marked with black Sharpie on his belly and the younger with blue Sharpie to be able to differentiate between the two until they’re big enough to receive poultry bands of the same colors. Hidden behind them is the last egg in the nest; when that one hatches, it won’t receive any markings until it gets a white poultry band at around five days old. My partner intern, David, and I will be visiting these nests daily to see how many of these chicks make it to fledging. At this point, they’ll receive federal bands and a field-readable band. We can only hope that after that, they’ll leave Appledore and be resighted elsewhere by all of you guys until they come back here to breed in a few years!