“Just the facts, Ma’am.” Sargent Joe Friday, Dragnet”
Our chicks were banded last Monday morning by Eva Szyszkoski from ICF with the help of Tim Dillenger and Carolyn Enloe, FWC, Scott Tidmus and Cheryl Tybor, Disney and our own Colleen Chase from OM. Bert Burton and Craig Kittendorf from the St Marks Photo Club were there to do a documentary video of the procedure so it can be made into a teaching aid for others to learn the proper banding technique from the pro.
As many of our readers know, we usually do the banding along with health checks together shortly after the end of migration so as to handle the chicks as little as possible and release them as soon as possible. However, this year it was decided by the WCEP Guidance Team that the traditional health checks were not necessary and that the birds should be released prior to banding since the banding would take an extended period of time to organize and schedule. We released the chicks on December 19th. This was of course was a risk since the chicks do not always return to the pen every morning. But luck was with us. The two chicks that left the previous night and had not yet returned when Colleen put the other chicks in the top netted pen (which we had practiced every morning for the previous two weeks) did return just before we returned to do the banding and we dodged another bullet.
Eva, WCEP’s most experienced bander, performed her usual magic, banding each chick with focused and practiced precision, while instructing Tim in the art and allowing him to do some of the banding also. Scott held the chicks while Colleen used every trick in the book to keep #4-12 and his new friend #4-13 away from the proceedings. Cheryl assisted.
Meanwhile, Bert and Craig documented the procedure with a new high tech video camera the St Marks Photo Club had recently donated to the Refuge. The process was quick and efficient and caused minimal stress to the chicks. In what seemed like no time at all, the chicks were back in the top netted pen, preening away at their new jewelry and even coming up to the handlers and taking grapes. This was the best banding session I have ever witnessed and well worth the wait.
We would like to thank Eva Szyszkoski from the International Crane Foundation, Tim Dellinger and Carolyn from Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission, Scott Tidmus and Cheryl Tybor from Disney, Craig Kittendorf and Bert Burton from the St Marks Photo Club, and Colleen Chase from OM for their experienced professionalism and considerable contribution to the health and well-being of the birds and the success of our project.