Monday, June 23, 2014

Adorable Alert, Kestrel Edition

In one of life's little serendipitous moments, I ran into a friend Sunday evening, and she invited me to watch kestrel chicks being banded tonight.  It felt like Christmas in not-quite-July :)

These kestrels live on land owned by the county's landfill.  They have had boxes for three or four years, if I remember correctly.  We checked two boxes, one with four chicks and one with five.  The first box of nestlings were very calm.  The second box, man, they had attitude.

This is the bander, collecting the chicks from the nest and putting them into a cardboard box lined with wood chips.  Then, each chick has head and wing measurements taken and is weighed.  Finally, they are carefully fitted with a leg band.

A chick is in the blue bag.  This method keeps them calm and also contained.  We did have a runaway chick - fortunately it only escaped into the back of the truck, and not out into the field.  They can't fly at this point, but they still move pretty quickly!  

When the bander fished the five chicks out of the second box, he told us it was really four and a half.  The fifth chick was very noticeably smaller than its siblings.  But just as outraged at its treatment :)

They were mostly content to sit on the bander's hand and pose for the paparazzi.  Kestrels are a type of falcon, and you can see here that typical falcon beak.  Notched, all the better to tear you apart with!

The second box had a dominant chick that spent a lot of time making alarm calls and kicking its feet anytime a hand went in the box.  I have some video of those shenanigans that I will post next time.

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