Our team had its first banding of the season today and it went spectacularly. Recently, we’ve been getting calls from people reporting a new nesting site between our river birds and our south loop pair on Michigan. Mary and Matt made an appointment for us to take a look at the site from the building next door. Unfortunately, I couldn’t leave work that day, but they came back pretty excited. Not only was it a new nesting site, but there were two chicks and they looked to be a bit older than any other chicks in the area.
Their nest is high on a beautiful 1920′s era art deco building overlooking Millennium Park, which is why Mary is calling them the Millennium Park pair. We had excellent access to the nest ledge thanks to a man named Scott, who has a business on the top floors. Scott and those working in his office were fantastic hosts today — that perfect blend of excited, enthusiastic and reverent and respectful of the beautiful wildlife in their midst. I am very much looking forward to a long association with this building and these people.
While Mary, Matt and our Lincoln Park vet tech Tangara got the chicks ready for banding inside, I stayed outside to try to catch the adult bands. One adult was quite obviously unbanded. At first, I thought it was the female because it seemed to be taking the aggressive lead on nest protection, swooping much closer than its mate. In my short experience, this is more of a female than male behavior. It seemed like every time I started firing off shots as one of the adults passed by, it was the unbanded adult! I could see the other one was banded and was fairly desperate to get the numbers.
After a little bit, the adults calmed enough to land. I edged my way over to the corner and peeked around, coming face to face with the banded adult. Huzzah! I snapped a few pictures, realized immediately that the bands looked very familiar and then left the bird in peace to go inside. Mission accomplished.
The team was just removing the first of the two chicks from the bag to band, so I snapped another lens on to get some shots of the banding. However, before I could take even one shot, I HAD to look at the band numbers again. They read: b/g V/S. Man, did that look familiar. I even remembered that I’d called the bird “Vee”, because she (I was pretty sure it was a she) was unnamed. However, I couldn’t for the life of me remember a year or location. I couldn’t stand it. I texted Sean the band numbers with hopes that he might see it before he went to lunch.
The chicks were both very healthy, very pretty girls. We got the bands on, took a little blood sample, took some pictures with Scott and company (their biggest fans) and then marched them back out to the nest site. As we left the happy family, the parents had just landed to calm their girls.
OK! Now, that I’m home, I can follow up on this. As it turned out, “V” was a bird from Chicago’s past and she was an unnamed female. In 2008, she and her mate tried and failed to nest on the London Guarantee (home of the River Birds). She was born in 2003 on the Interco Building in Clayton, Missouri and was unnamed at banding. Good to see her again! You always hope for the best when an adult is missing from a nest site the following season, but it’s sure good to have proof that they are just fine. More than fine — parents!