We received this beautiful passage via email from Cathy Staples, who joined us banding this morning at oh-dawn-thirty.
Birdbanding Field Notes: Rushton Farm, October 20th
The white-throated sparrow of my New England childhood: a sing of yellow on either side of his head, just a lick of brightness that like his song is a heartening, steady thrum in the turning wood. Lisa Kiziuk deftly lifts him from the mist net; he’s hardly tangled, it’s as if he’s been here before. (And he has, “sixty-nine” reads the imprint on his ankle band; last October he was caught and banded in the Rushton woods.) He’s an easy keeper, not to be compared with that fussing welter of feathers above him, small chickadee who has roiled about so that each curled foot is a welter of black mesh. I can’t imagine there’s anything to do but cut the net. But then Lisa strokes his leg lengthwise, the way you might straighten a dog’s foreleg before removing a thorn, and with one steady stroke the claw releases its tenacious grip. Square by square the mist net untwists. Lisa closes the angle of the perfectly hinged wing, slips one loop, then another, past shoulder and wingtip. One quarter turn of the wrist, and he’s unencumbered. The chickadee rests in the cradle of her palm, head caught in the vee of forefinger and ring finger. He peers up from under the loft of his punk black head, undeterred. Given a millimeter of wiggle room, he’ll do it again: pinch a fold Lisa’s forefinger, feisty as a pirate on his way up the rigging—cutlass between his teeth—before he’s eased down into the white fog, slip-purse of a bird bag and carried away to the bird-banding table.