May 6th – The Subtle Nuances of “Animal Repellism”

There is a saying at Ruthven Park that when you want a job done well don’t ask Brian. Although many – including Rick – credits Rick with this statement it was actually myself that came up with it. The purpose of it is that no one really expects all that much from me so I can pretty much skate through a day of banding. From time to time I do something that propagates this saying. Today was one of those days.

With a large and eager audience of visitors, and despite the presence of noted Irish vagrants Ken Perry and John Clark, I banded next to no birds. The disappointment was both palpable and profound. My failure, in their eyes, complete.
As the visitors left there was muttering and hostile stares. At one point I was even accused of wrecking the economy. Soon I was blissfully alone in a quiet lab – secure in the thought that expectations will be low when next there are visitors.

Seriously though, accomplishing this feat of not capturing birds was a difficult task. It is the peak of spring migration and the diversity and number of migrants should be at their maximum. How did I accomplish empty nets? Simple. I have what our oddly haberdashed Species-at-Risk biologist calls the opposite of “animal magnetism”. I have “animal repellism”. Birds flee from me. Children weep. Dogs bark. It is a gift I use to my advantage.

There actually was a small but steady trickle of migrants through Ruthven today, but really things were very very slow.

New species for the season sighted today were Magnolia Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, and Northern Waterthrush. A total of 57 species were encountered on the day.

Banded: 16Magnolia Warbler 1
American Goldfinch 5
Nashville Warbler 1
Northern Waterthrush 1
Chipping Sparrow 2
White-Throated Sparrow 1
Red-Winged Blackbird 3
Grey Catbird 1
Brown-Headed Cowbird 1

Retrapped: 15American Goldfinch 5
Chipping Sparrow 3
Black-Capped Chickadee 1
Yellow Warbler 1
House Wren 1
Brown-Headed Cowbird 3
Grey Catbird 1


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