Friday, June 1, 2012

First Chick!

The title pretty much says it all, but we had our first chick hatch today! That is, in the nests that Brendan and I are monitoring for the summer. There are a lot of Great Black-Backed chicks out already and even a couple of Herrings but today was the day that Kamikaze Jr. (A) was born. A little context here: Kamikaze is the name given to one of the parents on nest 12H245 who is a relentless dive-bomber and general "I-want-to-kill-you" gull. He has been nesting on Appledore for at least two years now; Sarah had him last  year. And, thus, as a result of his bad reputation, Brendan and I were a little perturbed when Sarah and Dave decided that Kamikaze's chick will be the first chick that we will have to collect a blood sample from this season. My head was full of visions of copious amounts of poop on my jacket and a few new holes in my helmet as we set out at 6 in the morning to conquer Kamikaze and bleed one of his offspring. (All in the name of science, of course, just in case that sounded morbid. We use the blood to determine sex of the chick and study a lot of cool stuff like why the Appledore population of gulls has a female sex-bias -- is it because the gulls lay more female eggs or because more females survive?). Thus it came as a welcome surprise when, once we had the chick about three meters away from the nest, the parents calmed down and one of them even settled back over the two remaining unhatched eggs. The chick was ADORABLE! It was still slightly wet, with its downy feathers sticking up and its gangly legs kicking feebly as it emitted little adorable peeps. Unfortunately, because of our unsureness about how Kamikaze would behave, none of us had brought a camera; and we were all too busy either demonstrating how to collect a blood sample or intently watching the process. 

However, after we had returned Kamikaze Hr. (A) carefully back to its nest, Brendan and I practiced bleeding two Great Black-backed chicks. They were a little bigger but no less adorable and just... awesome. To think that something that small grows into a full-fledged (haha) Great Black-backed Gull, the biggest gull in the world! It is pretty mind boggling to think of just how much learning and parental care and survival goes into a life like that. 

(from left) Sarah, me and Brendan with two Great Black-Backed Gull chicks. Photo by Dave.
It was a pretty windy day and we walked back to breakfast with the gulls doing their nifty "dynamic soaring" above us, looking like they were having the time of their lives just spreading their incredible wings, letting the air fill them up and propel them towards the sky. A good day to be a gull, and a gull-intern too!

1 comment:

  1. Parental care is universally same, except, we(humans)care for our 'chicks'forever.
    Happy Birding!!