It is the last few days of our field season, and time to band the Adelie Penguin chicks. We tend to select the larger, stronger chicks to band as their survival rate is better than that of the smaller ones. The bands have numbers on them which will identify each penguins year of birth, and the colony where they hatched. The bands do not interfere with their ability to find or catch food. Catching and banding penguin chicks is fun but messy. The chicks are strong. They bite and beat us with their hard flippers, so we must hold them tight as we slip the band onto their wing using our thumbs to bend it into place. We surround their crèche with a corral, then get into the corral, catch them individually, and put the bands into place. After several hundred bandings our thumbs hurt and we are covered with penguin guano and mud, a fitting end to our season.
To learn more about Adelie Penguins go to penguinscience.com.
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Postcards from the Field: Adelie Penguins 2007