Pelican Banding 2005

My glamorous lifestyle:

Birdchick avec young double-crested cormorants while laying on bird poop and barf.

So, thanks to Non Birding Bill I have a new page of updated photos and captions for pelican/cormorant/ring-billed gull banding 2005. NBB feels quite strongly that I put a warning out that some of the photos are on the gross side. These are not just photos of cute baby birds, but a documentation of what a person would find visiting a nesting colony. The first page is fine, but at the bottom of the second page are photos of harsh colony life and what happens to some of the birds on the island. It's a wonder we have any pelicans, cormorants or gulls at all. I have always maintained that every bird has a dark side and boy howdy is proven here.

I was nervous because last year I had a tough time banding. It's one thing to band hawks when one person is holding it and someone else is measuring and placing the band on, here on the island one person is grabbing a struggling-fishy-smelling-mushy-turkey-like bird and getting barfed on in the process, it's not easy to do with just one hand. There were several times last year when I would crimp a band around a pelican's leg and it would close too tight and I would need assistance taking the band off and putting it on correctly. If you leave the band on too tight it will constrict the bird's leg and eventually kill it with the resulting infection, so it's incredibly important to make sure the bands are on properly. This year, I only did it twice and the second time I was able to correct the mistake on my own. This year, I really felt I had my groove on.

Despite all the stink, this banding trip is one of the coolest things I have ever gotten to do. I'm privileged to spend a day with all the researchers and ornithologists and absorb their information and to have a chance to observe bird behavior. It truly is like being on another planet when you visit these islands and at the end of the day when you get home to think back that, "Wow, I handled hundreds of pelicans today and aided in research that some ornithologist may use years down the way to prove a new theory." It just makes you feel like you aren't some aimless speck on the planet.