April 3rd – How to Incite an Anxiety Attack

In some spy movies and action flicks there are scenes in which one group is trying to get a captured member of the other group to “talk”. And reference is often made to the fact that everyone has a secret fear of something that is so terrible that when he or she is exposed to it they will “talk” immediately to be rid of it. For me, it’s the picnic table laden with so many of Elaine’s muffins that I’ll never be able to finish them all. For Christine Madliger, it’s the early arrival of Tree Swallows and their beginning to lay and incubate eggs before she’s in the field and ready to monitor them, seriously limiting the value of her study data.

In a playfully sadistic sense, it was kind of fun to get Christine going today. The first serious observable rise in blood pressure was noticeable after I pointed out the 4 Tree Swallows flying over the parking lot. I was able to push it up a bit higher when I suggested that they appeared to be checking out the nest boxes there. And then the piece de resistance – I suggested that the one female among this group seemed a little plump…as though she was carrying an egg. Probably she was looking for a box to start nesting in…. Now the key at this point is to maintain a “straight face”, to give no clue that you are pulling the victim’s chain. Christine tried to laugh my suggestion off but her eyes searched my face for a telltale sign that I was kidding. And when she didn’t find it….deep behind her eyes you could sense the panic as a cold sweat broke out on her brow. The spell was broken by the comment of another spectator that this was impossible, blah, blah, blah. But for that one moment I had her….

Birdwise, there wasn’t a lot to note. At least one Sandhill Crane went by; we saw the first Eastern Meadowlark of the year; and we banded 2 more Golden-crowned Kinglets. Also, our total of 38 species encountered on the day was the highest so far this year.

Banded 17:
2 Mourning Doves
3 Black-capped Chickadees
2 Golden-crowned Kinglets
2 American Robins
1 Song Sparrow
2 Brown-headed Cowbirds
5 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 28:
1 Downy Woodpecker
4 Black-capped Chickadees
2 White-breasted Nuthatches
9 American Tree Sparrows
2 Song Sparrows
7 Dark-eyed Juncos
3 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 38 spp.


Leave a Reply