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Borrego Springs, CA

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!

It was back to the VC to work for me today.  Most of the time was spent welcoming the 25 visitors throughout the day, and catching up with Doug, the volunteer coordinator.  He has been gone for the last three weeks dealing with health issues with his parents up in Pennsylvania.  We needed to get the schedule for the next month set up with school groups coming in for programs.

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Also in the plans is a trip for all of the volunteers and interns to Ship Island off of the Mississippi coast in April.  I’m looking forward to that trip.  April turns out to be Volunteer Appreciation Month, so the refuge will probably foot the bill for this trip.  Sweet!!

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I have found Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR to be the most willing, of all the refuges I’ve volunteered at, to provide trips and wonderful experiences for their volunteers.  It’s one of those perks that makes volunteering here most memorable.

During a lull in visitation during the afternoon, I took a walk around outside.  I wanted to check out the grassy area in front of the VC to see if the sundew plants had started blooming.  What a surprise I was in for today.  If any of you have watched “The Golden Girls”, you may remember that Sophia always prefaces her stories by saying “Picture this…”

Well, “picture this…”  I’m walking along in the grass staring down looking for those small sundew plants.  Instead, I see a small brown bird running along ahead of me.  As I peer at it, I figure out it is a Henslow’s sparrow.

An uncommon and famously inconspicuous bird, the Henslow's Sparrow breeds in weedy grasslands of the east-central United States. Its population numbers have declined steadily over the past few decades, largely because of habitat loss.  The Henslow's Sparrow takes flight only with great reluctance, preferring to flee from threats by running through the grass. (This is from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology bird website)

Yahoo!  The only Henslow’s sparrow I’ve ever seen is the decapitated head of one while helping with a loggerhead shrike study in Texas. (a different story Thinking smile)

Anyway, I decide to stalk this little illusive bird.  I bend over and slowly try to creep up on it.  In the meantime, Doug comes out front and laughingly shouts: “What’s the matter, are you having trouble with your back?”  It’s at this point that I shoot my right arm out and snatch the little sparrow up in my hand. 

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Doug is flabbergasted!  He can’t believe I caught this sparrow in my hand.  Truth be told, I can’t believe it either.  Surprised smile

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I just wanted to get a close up and personal look at this very uncommon little friend.  Of course, twenty years as a bird bander helped in knowing how to handle this little guy.  What a beauty!  That’s when the title for this post popped into my mind.

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After everyone got a chance to ooh and aah over the bird, I carefully returned it to the wet pine savannah behind the VC.  It immediately skulked its way back to its preferred habitat.  Within the next week or so, this little guy will be on his way north for the breeding season.  _MG_7251This little guy did not go quietly into the night.  He gave me a good tweak to show me what he thought of the experience.  I understood.  Safe travels, my friend!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

36 comments:

  1. I'm just flabbergasted! Your talents are incredible.

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  2. Great that you got him to snap a few pictures. it made a good story.

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  3. The bird whisperer you are!!! Congrats on such a great catch! It couldn't have happened for a more deserving lover of our feathered peeps!

    I was hunting myself today for a brother for Mombi, but not successful... I'm being picky with adoption priorities.

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  4. Nice catch! I've only ever had Black-capped Chickadees in my hand and had one try to take a piece of my hand along with a sunflower seed.

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  5. That is so awesome. I could never pick up a bird like that. What a great experience for you! ~wheresweaver

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  6. What a great experience! So... are you a walking mist net or a rocket net? Too bad you didn't get a chance to band him before the release. Nice story!

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  7. Fast hands :) if you ever need money, you could be a dealer in Vegas ;)

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  8. Wow, what a unique experience!

    http://travelinglongdogs.blogspot.com

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  9. You have the greatest stories about science, biology and nature. Pretty amazing for a former math teacher. ;c)

    I'm learning all kinds of things from you, could have used you when I was in high school struggling in biology class.

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  10. WOW...what a great story and wonderful pictures. I like Chuck and Anneke's comment!!

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  11. You lucked out there. How cool was that.

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  12. a bird in the hand..what a catch!..good for you!

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  13. Fast Hand's Judy ... there's a nickname for you :-)))

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  14. Great post - wonderful little bird!

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  15. What a sweet little bird. The face coloring is beautiful!

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  16. What reflexes you have. The bird is so tiny.
    Don't think his bite was as bad as when our sons parrot got you. But little guy's got the look "Let me go giant or I'll hurt you !"

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  17. Great story and pictures. Yeah, I could tell by the way you were holding it that you had some bird banding experience.

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  18. Ships Island!WOW! That trip has been on my bucket list of paddles for at least 20 years. A friend described a trip she took there when spring migration was in full swing. She said there was a hummingbird on every bush.

    And I have a Henslow's sparrow story also. We were on a birding trip in South Louisiana to look for it. Someone thought they say one go down so we circled the area and slowly walked towards the center of the circle. It broke and flew right over my head. Instinctively I threw up my hands and caught it. Another guy caught a sora when it went under the water of a little puddle.

    Sounds like your reflexes are just fine. Does this place have housing or it is just for RVers?

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  19. That is amazing. Thanks for sharing this bird with us.

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  20. Hmmm ... "takes flight only with great reluctance" ... "this little guy will be on his way north for the breeding season".

    Do you think he will walk north? Or does anticipation of breeding overcome great reluctance?

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  21. Finally got your blog to load after several tries and I am so glad. Judy that is just incredible that you were able to handle that little bird, even if he wasn't happy with you. What a marvelous experience. And he's so little.

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  22. butterbean carpenterMarch 30, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    Howdy Fasthand Judy & Emma,

    Great story and pics, of course!! Could you not have banded him and sent the info somewhere?? You are definitely a Superwoman, Superteacher and Just plain SUPERPERSON!!! Does Emma still qualify for a mention every now and then?? Hope all's going great in the swamps!!!

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  23. Congratulations, Judy! That is just awesome!! I know how much you wanted to see one last year. You're right, MSHC Refuge is truly a wonderful place to volunteer. The staff is SUPER!!

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  24. AMAZING!! I would have squashed the poor little thing!...I have a friend who stands outside holding the Hummer feeder...and they come all around him and feed from it...I might try that this Spring...When do you leave the deep South?? It's gotta be gettin' hot down there...and mosquitoee!

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  25. WOW Judy. That's amazing. SO glad you know just how to do that and no one else will try to imitate you without the same skill. Fabulous pictures of you two. So glad to see you both up close and personal.

    Sherry
    www.directionofourdreams.blogspot.com

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  26. George Stoltz said --

    A rare experience for a fine and rare person. What a great day for you, Judy.

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  27. Judy, so sweet. I bet he thought you were sweet too. To the taste. :-)

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  28. I love your pics...especially the catch of the day. Too cool!!!

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  29. Only an excellent bird bander could catch a bird in the grass! Awesome! I've never heard of this little character! Great pics of you and he! OUCH!! I thought that beak looked sharp!
    Plus, that sounds like a fun field trip for the volunteers! It's always nice when they appreciate their volunteers hard work at keeping the refuges open to the public!

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  30. How great it is that someone was there to catch this feat on camera.

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  31. What an awesome experience! Thanks for posting all your unique adventures. I learn alot from your blog!

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  32. Very cool. Hope the trip to Ship Island is a good one. Maybe next year we'll stay later to "make up" for coming back to Gautier early.

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