My girlfriend, who works for the state, called me to see if I wanted to travel down to Marathon, in the keys, to help band tern chicks last week. I think she thought I might jump at the chance to get off island, and knew I was missing the birds this season. She was right I have banded tern chicks before, and they are adorable, vulnerable, and pretty easy to handle in order to band. What was so cool about this banding experience was this; usually these birds lay their eggs on sand, they are colonial nesters (which means they nest in groups for better protection), they need a good part of the beach, uninterrupted, for their nesting efforts. Well, down in the keys, because of lack of large, sandy beaches, terns have taken to nesting on top of buildings! The top of buildings have been perfect because they gravel the roof, making the nesting perfect for the terns. It also gets them up, away from some predators, such as cats. I love this, I love how they have adapted! The businesses in these buildings seem to take to being protective and proud of these nesting birds too! So, we went up on the roofs and put the silver bands on their little legs. This chicks aren't flying yet, so we chase after them, carefully, while the run as fast as they can while shaking their little rumps.
They are cute little buggers. Banding is a messy job though, the chicks get nervous and let the bird poop fly. The parents also get protective, circle around, and let the poop fly. But it so doesn't matter as you are holding this cute little chick, and it's squeaking at you, and you just want to get the little band on without hurting them. One chick had just hatched out, I bet a minute after we got up on the roof and grabbed it, it still had egg shell on it's head. I thought, what a welcome to life for this little guy! I think we banded over 150 chicks.
Adult Roseate Tern