It's been an odd 24 hours.
Things started off with a bang yesterday at Carpenter Nature Center. We got in a male yellow warbler. I never realized just how yellow they are, even their toes are yellow. Hm, one of the few birds that actually matches the name ornithologists gave it. I wonder if that was a mistake? It's a bird. It's a warbler. It's yellow. Hm, if only they could have applied that logic to red-bellied woodpeckers.
We later got in a male rose-breasted grosbeak. Doesn't he look kind of...evil? Look at those eyes, that bird looks remarkably pissed off considering it doesn't have the protruding supraorbital ridge hawks have. Granted, I don't blame the birds for being irritated when being banded. After all, they don't know what the heck is going on, that we're doing this to track them and help them.
You'll note in this photo, we aren't holding the grosbeak like we do the other birds post banding. It's too dangerous with a grosbeak. Look at the size of that bill. They are huge (hence the name grosbeak, gros is French for fat). That bill is meant to crack open hard shells on seeds, but can also act as a great slicer of flesh when the need calls. So this is the best look we can get of a grosbeak in the hand without drawing blood. Even when you let grosbeaks go, you have to give them a toss. If you just open your hand, they will sometimes turn around and bite before they take off.
After the banding, I tied up all my last projects at The Raptor Center and drove home to pack. I could see rain was coming but didn't realize how bad it was going to get.
This is 35w right in the heart of Minneapolis going into hwy 94. Traffic is at a standstill because of nickel-sized hail that was falling down--right at rush hour. I stayed there for about 10 minutes. Non Birding Bill called to see how I was and as I was talking to him he and his friend just encountered half a tree laying in the middle of the road where they were. Flash flooding was all over the place, but I eventually made it home in one piece, as did NBB.
As I was packing last night, Cinnamon decided to help. She didn't understand that she wasn't coming on this trip. She greatly disapproved. It wasn't pretty and no amount of parsley could contain her.
I'm now in Maine and getting ready to go to sleep to prepare for the week. Some birders are here, but currently the hotel is overrun with Legionnaires. Tonight I was in the elevator going to meet a friend for dinner. We stopped on the third floor and about ten Legionnaires loaded on to the tiny elevator. I don't do well in cramped spaces but figured we only had tree floors to go so I pressed against the back wall. Two Legionnaires well past their 60s were right in front of me. Suddenly, I felt something. I looked down and one of the older gents was patting my thigh! I thought it was a mistake but the patting continued and proceeded to go higher. So I said as loudly as I could without yelling, "Hand check!" All eyes turned in our direction.
The older gent turned in surprise, apologized and said, "I'm sorry, I thought you were a wall." Now, I love the idea of having rock solid thighs, but in reality, they are quite soft. What kind of walls was this guy used to? Padded?
I smiled and said, "I've heard about you Legionnaires. Now, hands off the display case." He removed his hand (remarkably with all his fingers intact). I couldn't get off that elevator fast enough. I better get some really good life birds on this trip.