August 6th: Conspiracy Theory

Now, I don’t put much stock in conspiracy theories (unless, of course, it involves a certain “superpower”, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction) but something was going on at Ruthven this morning. It didn’t take me long to get onto it: for some reason known only to them, the mosquitoes and birds were teaming up to make my life hell. Here’s how it worked: the birds would wait until they saw me coming and would then throw themselves into the nets. But they just wouldn’t sit there and wait patiently, they would scrabble around to try to get as tangled as possible. The reason for this soon became clear. Everyone knows that taking a bird out of the net requires rapt attention and two hands and when you’ve got a tangled one you don’t want to lose any ground you might have gained in the disentangling process by letting that attention waver or letting go with one hand or the other. In short, it’s the ideal time for a concerted mosquito attack. And so they did. In my ears – I mean, right in there – in my eyes, behind my ears, under my chin, up my pant leg. And so I was torn – efficient extraction of the bird versus instant death to my six-legged nemeses. But it was the two working together as one….it was simply….uncanny.

So what did I do? I’d like to say my nerves of steel didn’t let me waver but the reality is that a few of the little blood suckers met an untimely end.

Banded 22:
2 Traill’s Flycatchers
1 Blue Jay
2 Black-capped Chickadees
6 House Wrens
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
1 Eastern Bluebird
1 Gray Catbird
2 Yellow Warblers
1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
3 Song Sparrows

Retrapped 15:
1 Hairy Woodpecker
2 Black-capped Chickadees
3 House Wrens
3 Eastern Bluebirds
1 Gray Catbird
5 Song Sparrows

ET’s: 43 species

The Eastern Bluebirds that I handled were all one family: we banded the adult male on May 14th; I banded the adult female today; the 2 youngsters were banded by Linda and Al Thrower. I am waiting to hear when they were banded and what nest box they came from.


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