May 26 2009
Yes, today was Banding Day. Those of you watching the University of Pittsburgh falconcam this morning noticed the chicks were missing between 9:00 and 10:00am.
Even before the event got underway Dorothy knew something was up. She stood guard from the top of the webcam and waited to attack. This is the eighth time her chicks have been banded but she never likes it.
When the PA Game Commission’s Beth Fife, Doug Dunkerley and Tammy Colt went out on the ledge, Dorothy flew at them, then spread her wings to put up a fight. She landed on the nest to protect her babies but she was captured and brought in anyway.
Her chicks were weighed and banded – 3 girls and 1 boy – and given complete health checks. Dorothy got an abbreviated health check too. All are fine.
The rain held off until it was time to return the chicks to the nest and then it poured. Beth dropped off the chicks who quickly huddled and screamed for their parents. Then Beth released Dorothy and she flew to the chicks immediately. I imagine Dorothy counted heads and found four healthy screamers. She told them to keep quiet, then leapt to the ramparts to continue her vigil.
Interestingly E2 was not present the entire time. This is normal for him and used to be normal for Louie, his father. I was surprised to see Louie so close during the banding at Gulf Tower last week. Maybe E2 will come closer some day.
Soon the chicks calmed down and fell asleep at the back of the box. This morning’s excitement and the gray, wet weather made them very sleepy. They’re also sleepy because they’re growing fast. At this stage their brown feathers are coming in and they’re losing their white down. Today’s handling caused their down to come lose and float around us at the banding.
And have you noticed the other benefits of the banding? Beth cleaned the nest and the webcam cover. Yow! What a mess it was! Dorothy should be glad she has a cleaning service.
(photo of WCO Beth Fife holding one of Dorothy and E2′s nestlings at Pitt. The photo was taken with my cell phone. Sorry for the poor picture quality, folks!)