The Oystercatcher Diaries 2014: Week 11

By Susan Heath

Big news! Our first chick fledged. XU was hanging out with his/her parents on the nesting island but since he/she is over 35 days old we the protocol is to count it as fledged. Even though chicks are capable of flight at this age, they aren’t very comfortable with it and will still run to hide rather than flying away when you approach. Because of that, we mark them as fledged when they reach a certain age and don’t wait until we actually see them fly which could be weeks later.

We also banded several more chicks. J6 & P4 who nest on a tiny island near Tiki Island fooled us into thinking their nest had failed last year and they fledged a chick without us realizing it. Not this year! We banded their chick XW on Monday. This was one big healthy chick and I think we caught it just before it could fly. Take a look at these nice primaries.

XW wing resized

We also banded R3 & R4’s chick. They nest on a small island right by the Fat Boy’s boat ramp. We saw two chicks on Monday but when we arrived on Thursday there was only one. We caught that one and banded it WA. It was very small for its age so we suspect the other chick starved to death. This has happened to this pair before. In 2011 we banded their two chicks and then found one of them dead a week later. As Amanda said – it’s a hard knock life.

We found eight new nests this week: two in Dickinson Bay, two in Swan Lake, three in West Galveston Bay, and one in Bastrop Bay. Six of these are renests and two are first time nests. One of the renests has already failed. One of the first time nests is from a pair that has a bird banded as a 2011 chick. That’s the second nest with a 2011 chick as an adult. I’m really anxious to see how those nests do because I suspect the younger birds take a while to get the hang of it. Of course in this case both of them have an older bird as a partner so that will up their chances for success.

Current Stats: 15 nests being incubated, 27 failed nests, 13 nests with confirmed chicks, 1 chick fledged

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