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.


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!!


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. 


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


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.


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