Friday, May 15, 2009

Bird in the Hand

A few years ago I was given the privilege to assist in banding wild caught birds. A nice gentleman by the name of Jack is a bird bander in St. Joseph. He has a special permit allowing him to do this. His love of birds is apparent as soon as you meet him. He has a great passion for these feathered creatures. He spends much time bird watching and teaching classes at a local university. Each spring and fall during the migration he sets up a mist net near the NW regional office of the Missouri Department of Conservation. He documents each species captured and banded, including their weight, and the band number. This particular morning we met about 7 AM and set up the net. Every half hour or so we checked the net. In the two hours we were there we caught a Black-Capped Chick-a-dee and an Eastern Towhee. A few other species escaped our efforts. This was the first time I had ever seen a towhee, so it was quite exciting for me. To be able to hold one of these delicate birds in your hand and place an impossibly tiny band on their legs was an experience I won't soon forget. They are light as a feather (no pun intended). Weighing no more than a few ounces. I've often mentioned how chick-a-dees are my favorite bird, so to be lucky enough that we just happened to catch one was good fortune for me. I never dreamed in a million years I'd get the honor of holding one. The first picture is of another assistant we had with us that day named Ryan holding the towhee. The second and third pictures are of me holding the towhee and the chick-a-dee right before they were released. I hope to one day go back and assist again with such a wonderful worthwhile venture.

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