Chicks and balances

A grey-headed albatross flying around the coast of South Georgia has a radio transmitter on its back. This allows scientists to learn where it caught the food that it is bringing back for its hungry chick. The large fluffy chick belongs to a colony that has been studied by a British team for more than fifteen years. In the old days, birds were weighed with a simple spring balance but now researchers use electronic scales concealed inside a fibreglass nest. This means that no one has to touch the chick to weigh it. Instead, the scales transmit a reading every ten minutes to a nearby hut in which sits a watching scientist with recording apparatus. This reveals that one parent brings 500 grams of fish, lamprey and krill to the chick every three days. Signals to the satellite reveal that the adult has travelled several hundred miles to get this food.

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