Spring Birds At Carpenter Nature Center

It was another action packed day at Carpenter Nature Center. Despite the big seasonal movement and warm temperatures, we didn't get huge amounts of birds. Above, some of the guys in the glass are playing with a spectrograph--there's always something scientific going on. At first they were just looking through it, but then Paul (in the pink shirt) tried to take a photo with his digital camera. Can we party or what!

Local weatherman Sven Sundgaard stopped by to film a bird segment for KARE 11. Jim Fitzpatrick (the guy teaching my banding class) is demonstrating how we band birds. I had a minor panic attack today. While they were filming a segment, a chickadee flew into the nets. I need practice getting birds out of the net and chickadees are one of the hardest birds to take out. They grab on to the net with both feet and do not let go. While you are trying to take the small ball of feathers out from entanglement, they peck at your fingernails--usually right where the nail meets the cuticle or between the nail and skin (if you're thinking "ow" you're thinking right).

I thought that I had it easy, since most everyone was over watching the filming, I could practice getting the chickadee out of the nets without everyone staring and making me nervous. After a few moments, fellow classmates Paul and Sue came to help--and I needed it. The wind kept blowing in and out of my face and Sue get reminding me to take deep cleansing breaths to stay calm. I almost had the chickadee out (and cuticles intact) when I hear a shout behind me. "Hey, Sharon, hold on, we want to film you getting the chickadee out of the net."

"Nooooooooo!" was my panicked response. Even though the bird was already mostly out, I could see that the net was twisted and I needed calm to get it out. However, the crew and group was around me before I knew it. Sue continued like a faithful Lamaze instructor, "deep cleansing breaths" but it was to no avail--my hands were shaking and no amount of being told, "Just calm down was going to help." The camera was on my fingers and even though I do tv segments all the time, that's me talking and doing things I'm 110% confident in. I'm still learning about banding and was just not ready for that audience. Sure enough, the bird fluttered and ended up tangled in the net again and I had Jim take over. Too much pressure. I know I'll get the hang of it like I got the grip down, but it's just going to take lots of practice.

But on to some of the other birds. We got in our first robin of the year. Someone else actually banded this bird, but I wanted to hold it for just a second. I have been handling tiny juncos all winter and I wanted to see what a big beefy bird like a robin would be like in my tiny hands--just fine. Whew.

missing toe

We still have some juncos around. These are not the ones we've had all winter, those guys have already gone north. This one probably wintered in Missouri, Texas, or perhaps Illinois. One of the juncos I had was was missing a talon...or is it claw on a songbird...whatever it's called, the bird was missing a toenail. It looked like an old wound that was well healed over and the bird had adapted to it very well.

We did get in one fox sparrow--wow, this has just been fox sparrow week for me. They're at Staring Lake, they're at Mr. Neil's, they're pretty much all over the Twin Cities. Talk about a beefy sparrow--these guys are robust! And if you're wondering what the big deal is about this brown bird, check this out:

Look at those gorgeous rufus colors on the wings, rump, and tail. That's not just any brown, that's a special brown. Really, it is. Just soak in that reddish brown for a few minutes.

Like Sue says, "Deep cleansing breaths" breathe in the fox sparrow, breath out. Breathe it in, deep cleansing fox sparrow.

Non brown birds will be coming to the blog soon. I swear.