Pilsen Chicks

The Pilsen Chicks 6Today was a really fun day! Mary and I left for the Pilsen site at 9am, armed with her brother’s motion-sensing camera. We hoped to get an ID on the adult female at the Pilsen nest by leaving the camera out near the nest box for several hours. She’s so aggressive that any time you open the door to the nest ledge, she takes off and starts buzzing around in the air, waiting to get a good chance to peg you one. Pretty hard to take a picture when she’s flying in circles at Mach-9 or, worse, flying at your face. That takes a special kind of nature photographer – one that I am not.

I brought both our cameras along, intending to use the little Nikon Coolpix S9 as a back-up to Mary’s brother’s camera. It has an interval setting, which allows me to program it to take a picture once a minute. I bought a kind of nifty flexible tripod that actually wraps very tightly around things, allowing you to mount the camera on fence posts, railing, etc…

Pilsen Adult Male 2The Pilsen nest is on the 10th floor of a very large warehouse building. The building is red brick and pretty neat looking – sort of gothic, sort of old haunted asylumesque. I figured I’d have lots of places to mount the camera, either on the fire escape metal or some of the decorative elements on the brick.

We met the really nice building manager, Dan, at the door and he took us up to the 10th floor. No sooner had he touched the door handle to open the door to the fire escape than we heard the adults start screeching.

The male sat on the railing, staring directly at us, so I snapped a few keen pictures, including several very clear pictures of his legbands. He was the same male from last year (b/g L/N), an unnamed male born in 2000 at the 5821 N. Broadway site here in Chicago. He’s a very handsome male, with a notably broad back and neck.

Of course, the female was in the air. I could see her blur by now and again and of course I could hear her – she was pretty pissed. Finally, I took a look at the two cute little puffballs in the nest. One chick was noticably larger and Mary posited that it probably hatched two to three days before the other one. Two unhatched eggs rolled around the nest as the chicks moved around. Mary said they probably wouldn’t hatch and that we’d retrieve them when we did the banding.

So, it was time to set up the cameras. Mary strapped on the helmet and leaned out on the ledge to set up her brother’s camera. When she was done, I donned the helmet and leaned out. The tripod worked really nicely, even though it took me a second to get it situated. I turned it on and then backed off the fire escape. Once in, I got my binocs out and waited to see if the camera would snap a shot. It did!

Mom Feeds the Babies 13Dan took us on a short tour of the building before we left. Really nice place! The only thing it needs is a framed peregrine picture – hopefully we can do something about that. Apparently, it was built in the 20’s and you could see art deco touches everywhere.

Before we left, Dan gave me the cutest little coin bank in the shape of a miniature paper trash bin. It even has little tiny wheels so I can wheel it around my desk! Which, I won’t, of course, since I’m not 9. But, it really is cute. ‘Nuff said.

Mary and I went back to the museum to get some stuff done. I took a check of the museum pair and they were as active as ever out on the north side of the building. I noticed more and more people taking breaks out there to watch them, so they are getting quite a following already!

At 1pm, Mary and I went back to Pilsen to get our cameras. I was sort of nervous that my camera had snapped the one picture and then done nothing else. Mary was similarly nervous about her brother’s camera.

Dan took us back up and we got the cameras. It was quite a lot warmer out and both chicks were fast asleep. One was laying in the funniest position, pretty much splayed out flat. Pretty cute.

Dad Feeds the Chicks 1The batteries on my camera were completely dead, so we had to wait until I charged it to see if there were any pictures. Sadly, Mary’s camera captured exactly one image. So, we both hoped my camera worked. I am happy to report, we got 150 images! I downloaded a number of them to Flickr, but not all.

We got pictures of both adults coming in to feed the chicks and lots of pictures of the chicks completely crashed out. We did get at least 18 pictures of the female, but for some reason, the number or letter on her bottom green band was unreadable. The top black band was clearly a “9”, so at least that’s something.

We are going to go back next week and try the same set up. This time, I will go out further on the ledge so that I can put the camera a bit closer. Hopefully, we’ll get those legbands this time!

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~ by Steph on May 8, 2007.