Friday's Doin's

Think those chickadees are cute and adorable? Get one in hand they are as vicious as can be and masters of pinching the most painful pieces of skin. I had just focused this shot of a chickadee head perfectly and right before I snapped the photo the chickadee bent down an pinched the bander. She requested through gritted teeth that I hurry to get my photo.

Well, Non Birding Bill and I are still married. That N in the NBB is still firmly intact.

We went banding in the morning, had some lunch and then drove around looking for some the unusual birds in the area that have been reported: female mountain bluebird, gyrfalcon and maybe a stop by the airport to glance at the snowy owls.

We didn't see a single one!

Even banding was slow. I started referring to Non Birding Bill and Bad Luck Birding Jones. He corrected me that it was Bad Luck Birding Bill or Anti Birding Bill. He taunted me by saying he was going to start keeping track of all the birds he didn't see--that was his listing strategy.

NBB and I joke that especially when it comes to owls, we don't see stake out birds when I bring him along. I thought we had broken that with the sightings of the short-eared owls at Carlos Avery but I think the real reason is that when I have Bill along, I don't search as hard for birds as I would when I am alone or with fellow birders. When alone, if I notice a new road that I have never been down before, I might check it. If I get a little lost, I don't sweat it, I figure that I will eventually come to something recognizable and find my way back. NBB likes to know where we are and how we can get back, so I may ignore certain roads and trails. It was fun just spending time together in the car and talking nonsense.

Even though the numbers of birds into the traps was low on Friday at Carpenter, we did get one very interesting retrap--a male junco that was first banded in January 2003--it was one year old at that point and has been retrapped five more times since then. Here it was January 2007--the bird is now five years old. It has survived migration all those years, all those times we have harsh winter storms, temperatures below zero degrees, breeding and raising chicks. Something so small lasting so long in the wild, still going strong. I wonder where it breeds? We do have some that breed in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota, but did this junco come even further north than that?

Again, I have to ask: If banding is so traumatic why does the bird keep coming back to the same area where it has been banded so many times?