A Sense of Scale
Hello everyone, fancy seeing you here. I can’t believe it’s already June, time really does fly when you’re having fun. My time here at the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex has been a blast, and I can’t imagine a better internship experience. I have fallen into a nice routine, but every week offers something new to keep things interesting.
I have been going out on Least Tern surveys for the past month or so, which means our first nests are at the end of their incubation period. Thus, Least Tern chick season is finally underway and little fluff balls are popping up everywhere. This now means watching our step for not only nests, but for chicks on the move. The featured photo is of one of those chicks being weighed and banded. Do you know how much a Least Tern weighs!?!? Literally nothing. The chick in the photo above is 6.5 grams. 1 gram = 0.035274 ounces. 1 ounce = 0.0625 pounds Let’s say the average human baby is 7.5 pounds, how many Least Tern chicks would that be? Who said I would never use dimensional analysis again? One newborn human baby would be equivalent to roughly 523 LEAST TERN CHICKS!!! That’s a lot of fluff balls running around!
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned I was going to try and pick up some cool hobbies or skills that I think will be useful in my career as a biologist. The first one of those skills is *drum roll please* …tracking. Tracking is very useful to see what animals are present in an area, where they congregate, and where their nests are. For example, if you follow Snowy Plovers tracks and find a heavily trafficked area with trails leading in and out, there is probably a nest located nearby. If there is a dense area of Least Tern tracks that don’t seem to be traveling anywhere, they probably like to roost there. Tracking is also useful to see what predators are in the area, the two most prevalent are raven and coyote tracks. Being able to recognize this, aids in predator control and keeps are endangered species safe from predation. As spring transitions to summer, I am excited to see how many tracks I can become familiar with over the course of this internship. That’s all I got for this week. See you next time!