Last Friday, I went to the New York side of the St. Lawrence River with Chris B, who is doing a MSc thesis in my lab. We were visiting one of his sampling sites, a common tern (Sterna hirundo) colony, to collect samples for his research. It was a beautiful evening with the sun setting over the river.
Our work plan was to visit the colony, carefully avoid the eggs which blend well in with the stones, and gently catch several chicks. The adults were aggressively attacking us, so we did not stay long. Each chick was put into a cotton bag to wait for their turn to be weighed, banded and then a few feathers were collected for analyses. The chicks tend to remain calm in the bags, although they understandably are a little grumpy. In the end, all are released, and no chicks were hurt in the creation of this blog post (or research).
(Note that common terns are on the New York’s “Threatened” species list and are being monitored in Ontario. We must have special permission to access those colonies, in addition to the regular bird-sampling paperwork. Do not visit a colony without permission — let the adults take care of their chicks in peace. 🙂 )
Bonus: an extra picture of the eggs!