Happy Feathers Day...
No, I didn’t misspell it. Went to the beach to help watch the birds again. The Royal Terns have hatched and are already out on the beach. The Laughing Gull chicks are getting larger and starting to grow feathers over the down. Growing feathers is a good thing for them because they can start to regulate their body heat more efficiently. The “down side” is those wing feathers are heavy. One poor little Laughing Gull chick came walking up to my chair with its wings hanging down like it was too tired to hold them up. It looked up at me as if to say “Mister, these feathers and “wingy things” are heavy, can I rest a while under the shade of your chair?” It did so while I sipped my coffee.
Royal Terns by the thousands nest on the sand dunes and the chicks have started hatching. Royal Terns don’t build nest, they just make a “scrape” or hollowed out indention in the sand to lay their eggs. The pair defecates around the rim and after a few weeks it hardens and makes a small barrier against flooding. The chicks can leave the scrape and wander about after only one day. And wander they do indeed. The wet tidal sand provides some cool relief on the beach as well as pools of water at low tide for the parents to get their daily baths. The parents and chicks gather in groups called a “creche”. While the parents fly to the surf zone looking for food, other adults will guard the chicks, which are called “downys”. A parent will only feed its own young and probably recognize it by its call. The oldest known Royal Tern was at least 30 years old found in Belize in 2013 and was banded in North Carolina in 1983 (Source: Cornell Lab of Ornithology).
Summer officially begins at 0634 EDT today. School is out and many of you will indeed take time off and seek refuge to relax by the sea or some lakeshore as you enjoy the summer days. Just remember that our feathered friends are there too and many of them are still growing feathers so one day they can fly. Good thing I am not a bird. It would take a whole lot of feathers to get me off the ground. Blessings. Harry