on the needles

Friday, June 02, 2006


Big sigh of relief! I just finished putting the closed bands on the chicks. That was nerve wracking work! They're just so tiny. Here is the smallest chick in my hand to give you an idea of their size at six days old. You can click on the pictures to see the details.

Look at that tiny little leg!! And those toes. You have to slip the band over the first three toes - the ones that face forward when the bird grips a branch. The backward facing toe gets pushed back toward the leg and you have to use a toothpick to sort of tease it out of the band. Then you're all set. Birds with jewelry! :) There is a good illustration of the procedure here.

Their eyes should start to open beginning tomorrow.

Here they are in the nest:

You can see that the chicks vary in size. The biggest is almost twice as big as the smallest chick. For those of you who may not have seen baby birds before - there are two interesting features you can clearly see in the photos. The first is the massive swellings on either side of the chicks necks. That is their crop - stuffed with regurgitated food. Can you believe how much food they can hold in there? Another cool thing which is only seen in gouldian finches are the little colored nodules which line the sides of their mouths. Believe it or not those are little glow in the dark "put food here" signals to the parent birds so that they can feed the babies properly - even in the darkness of the nest.

Isn't nature the coolest?!


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