The Banding of Wild Chick W1-10

Wild-hatched chick W1-10 was born at the end of May 2010. It stays close to Mom and Dad in the first months of life. They teach and guard their chick. The chick is flying at the end of August. It is September 14 in this photo, and the chick is about 108 days old. Mom #309 looks alert. What is coming?

Some costume-wearing biologists have come to capture the chick! They want to put bands on its legs. The parents try to keep the kidnappers away from their chick. They make a huge racket and try to attack. Finally they make the rattling noise that means their chick has been caught.

I rush to the capture location. Richard is restraining the chick and Marianne is fending off the extremely upset parents. I take over for Marianne so she can take the chick from Richard and carry it to our banding area. Holding my puppet head up as high as I can and stretching out my free arm, I try to look as large as possible while staying between the adults and their chick. Both adults have their wings out, waiting for a chance to attack. Richard and Marianne then head out of the marsh with the chick. I don't take my eyes off the angry, dangerous adults!

Richard and Marianne struggle to get a hood over the chick's eyes. Then they remove their own hoods so they can see better as they work. They examine the chick and take a blood sample. Testing the blood tells if the chick is male or female.

Soon we walk back to the small open marsh to release the chick back with its parents. As I remove its hood to take a quick look at its eyes, the chick says goodbye (and good riddance) with one last jab at my arm. Ouch!

It wasn't easy, but we did it! Wild chick W1-10 is banded. The left leg carries a radio transmitter for tracking. The right leg shows red/green/white, the color code that identifies her for the rest of her life. Soon the family will be ready to migrate. This chick will learn the route from its parents. Their band's transmitters will send radio signals as they travel south in fall and north in spring. How will this chick change over the winter? Find out on Journey North when the chick returns to Wisconsin next spring!

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