Thursday, July 1, 2010

Painting the Birds

Yesterday, I spray painted a bird hot pink. It was so much fun! I went out with Rachel Orben and her partner Karith. We hiked the rocks on the beach at Ridgewall to a place where we could look up and see some Blacked Legged Kittiwakes that had been tagged over the winter. We sat for a little bit and waited for the birds to move so we could see exactly which birds had the tags on their legs. After a bird moved enough for us to see his tag, Rachel and Karith climbed up under the nest and caught the bird on a noose pole (they slid the noose around the birds head, the bird is fine). I had a timer in my hand and as soon as the bird thought it was caught, I started the timer. They had 3 minutes to get the bird off the edge of the cliff and back down to our gear so they could take a stressed blood sample. They took the blood from under the birds left wing. The took 3 different blood samples. One stressed, one for sex, and one for DNA. Then they took feathers from the head, stomach, and pin feathers (feathers that were just growing in). We also picked ticks off of the Kittiwake's head because there were about 10 all in one spot on his head. It was gross. After that, I got to spray paint the tail florescent pink so we would know which bird we had already caught, and I got to be the one who released the Kittiwake. I just kind of threw him into the air and he almost crash landed, but he found a gust of wind and found his way back to his nest. Then we sat and watched the other birds for a little while, but we had to head back before the tide came back in. I had a great time, and I can't wait to go back otu with them!