On August 24, 2017 Audubon New York had the chance to join the Town of Hempstead, NYS DEC, and NYC Audubon in their efforts successfully banding 164 Black Skimmer chicks with field-readable yellow bands. As the Long Island Bird Conservation Manager for Audubon New York, this project is one that I look forward to every year, and it was a great opportunity for Lindsey DeLuna, our Shorebird Seasonal Field Technician, as well. Members of the South Shore Audubon Society and Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation, as well as a local photographer, also assisted. This banding project is part of a larger Black Skimmer banding and research effort.
Long Island's Nickerson Beach is home to one of just two Black Skimmer colonies in New York so it is important for us to monitor and protect these birds. Town of Hempstead conservation staff did a great job of organizing everything and ensuring that the banding operation was carried out safely and effectively. First, we spread out around the perimeter of the colony and carefully corralled the chicks towards a mesh fence that was set up in advance. Once the chicks were all in one area, we closed off the fence to keep them in a temporary, shaded pen. This method is more efficient and less stressful than capturing the chicks individually with nets.
After each bird was banded with both field-readable yellow bands and metal USGS bands, they were returned to the colony. We aimed to minimize stress to the birds and to release the chicks as soon as possible. Once all chicks had been banded and released, staff monitored the colony and made sure that the adults and chicks were all settled back down in their nesting area. The operation went very well and we look forward to hearing reports of the birds down on their wintering grounds!
We hope you enjoy photos from the day below.