satellite view from PMNM
E komo mai; welcome! Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is surrounded by a lei of foam in the middle of the North Pacific; it's a beautiful, special place.

Not only are there albatross on Midway, but many other interesting kinds of wildlife, both on the land and in the sea. Please enjoy exploring FOAM, an educational blog actively done while on Midway from May through August 2010. Posts are added from off-Midway, as information becomes available. If you're interested in a particular topic, please use the search box or the alphabetical list of "labels" along the left side of the blog page.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Bracelets" for Red-tailed Tropicbirds

adult Red-tailed Tropicbird
The left-hand picture shows a Red-tailed Tropicbird chick that's grown up and ready to fly away from Midway Atoll to start its own life.  It's at what we call the "fully feathered chick, or FFC" stage.  But before it flies away, the US Fish and Wildlife Service would like to put a "bracelet" on it.

RTTR bands, ready for use
The bracelet is a small metal ring called a "band" with a number.  Each band has a different number; so each bird that gets a band has its own number.  This identifies the bird.  When the FFC grows up, and returns to Midway, we'll know who it is.  If it mates, lays an egg, and raises its own chick, we'll have a record of the family...sort of a "family tree."

Do you see what looks like a large safety pin in the picture, to the right of the metal bands?  That's actually a clip that came off a fishing float, which was found as marine debris on one of Midway's beaches.  We pretended the clip was an RTTR's leg, and learned how to band Tropicbirds.  In this series of pictures, you can see how it's done:

1) A bird band is in the front position in the special, banding pliers.
2) The pliers are squeezed to close the band around the "bird leg."
3) The bird band is rotated.
4) The band is moved to the pliers' back position; the pliers are squeezed...
5) ... closing the band and making it round.
6) The band is on the "bird leg!"

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