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Muttonbird bander baffled by chick’s absence

June 23, 2014

May 2014.

By Mic Smith

A Port Fairy bird bander is baffled by low numbers of mutton bird chicks in their burrows at a well know nesting area.

Short-tailed Shearwater expert in Port Fairy, Philip Du Guesclin, says in one night only 19 chicks were found.

Mr Du Guesclin, who has been banding the chicks for 30 years, says he is baffled to find so few as he usually finds between 50 and 150 chicks in a night to band.

The banding is done immediately after the adults leave for their annual migration to Japan, Alaska and Siberia. The adults give the chicks a last feed before they go and the chicks follow them a few weeks later in early May.

Mr Du Guesclin says he is not sure if the chicks had left early or weren’t there in the first place.

He says this is the best time to assess the bird numbers as the chicks move out of the nests at night to start to warm up for the long flights ahead, so there is less chance of injuring birds when treading on burrows.

Last year thousands of mutton birds washed up dead or dying along the Australian East coast on their return journey from the northern hemisphere.

 

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