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More Good News from Yesterday!

Project update: Monday, 26 January 2009
By and

We have more good news from yesterday. At Inia we checked two of our known nests (5 and 7 full grown chicks, see pictures), and could collar 3 new birds (we have only one collar left). Then, we checked all the collared birds at Chahuilco (14!). Two already left their nest and were ca. 200 m from their nest (one not seen was within the range of the receiver with no antenna).

Today Ana and Nicole will go back to Inia again to try collaring the last chick (from clutch of 7).

We had troubles getting the chicks out of the nest. We tried two different scoops (nets), but if you do not see the birds from the entrance, it turns almost impossible to manipulate the scoop and get the chicks. Do any of you have a suggestion on how to do it?

5 full grown chicks © Photo Jaime Jiminez

7 full grown chicks © Photo Jaime Jiminez

Young Slender-billed Conure with a radio collar © Photo Jaime Jiminez

Mark Stafford’s response to Jaime Jiminez’s above question:

Yes, I had the same problem with the nets. All three times I used the nets I could not actually see the chicks and manipulate the net at the same time….the entrance holes are too small….once my arm was in the hole I was blind. And, in two cases the chicks were so far down I could not see them, even with my arm out. I started with the net placed vertically at the back wall of the nest cavity (farthest from the entry hole). Then I slowly and gently “walked” the net with a slight up and down movement in little steps toward the front wall of the nest cavity. (walking from front to back did not work as I could not “feel” the chicks as well). Doing this I essentially convinced the chicks to move against the front wall of the nest cavity. Then I slowly and gently continued to work the net under the chick(s) until the net started to feel and little heavier. Then I would lift the net to see if I got lucky….if a chick decided to step into the net. Sometimes this took a long time…sometimes not. I seemed like the first chicks were more difficult…I think because the chick huddle together in the cavity. Once I had gotten the first of second chick then it got a little easier as the chicks were not all huddled together.

Jaime Jiminez’s comment:

We did change the wire to a ca. 2.5 mm, but still it was very difficult to get the chicks in to the “sack”.

Mark Stafford’s response:

I agree it is very difficult to convince the chicks to take the step into the sack. I had to really work to gently work the metal rim of the net under the chicks and get them to “trip” into the net. On one, when I pulled up the net he/she was only hanging onto the net by a toe nail.

When the net is in the hole it is possible to “feel” the chicks. They present a little “soft” resistance to the net when it is worked toward the “front” of the cavity floor.

It is a bit of trial and error.

Tom White’s response to above e-mails:

What Mark has described is very similar to how I got chicks out of deep ground cavities on Abaco Island. It takes patience, for sure, but “herding” the chicks towards one side or corner of the nest and then trying to get one to step on/in the net is about the only real way to do it. I call it “blind fishing” because it is just like it!

By the way….GREAT photos of the chicks in the nest!! Congratulations on all those radios, too!

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