September 12th – A Big Round

“BUT then a funny thing happened to me. It’s a long story, but basically I fell in love with birds. I did this not without significant resistance, because it’s very uncool to be a birdwatcher, because anything that betrays real passion is by definition uncool. But little by little, in spite of myself, I developed this passion, and although one-half of a passion is obsession, the other half is love.
 And so, yes, I kept a meticulous list of the birds I’d seen, and, yes, I went to inordinate lengths to see new species. But, no less important, whenever I looked at a bird, any bird, even a pigeon or a robin, I could feel my heart overflow with love.”
                                                             – Jonathan Franzen
One of the neat things about the banding lab these days is the conversation amont the participants – some old, inured birders/banders and some just starting out but trying hard to “catch up”. It’s a good place to learn (and it’s good for the old inured folks to be pushed). This morning Joanne produced this quote and it struck me how much it described my development. I can remember those days when it was “VERY uncool to be a birdwatcher”. In fact, friends of mine from high school often tell me they had NO idea I was interested in birds. Fortunately, I was able to slip in among other developing enthusiasts through the Hamilton Junior Naturalists’ Club – in a group where it was cool to be a birdwatcher (or botanist or entomologist). Now, things have changed dramatically and it’s hip to be an “environmentalist” or a “tree hugger” or a “nature photographer” and it’s even ok to be a biologist. This is a quote that I’ll bet many of the readers of this blog can relate to…..
It was an odd day: one BIG, very promising net round at the beginning (we caught 60% of the birds we banded in this round – most of the warblers; the goldfinches came later) and then the bottom fell out and we got just dribs and drabs as the sun moved higher into the sky and the temperature shot up. Even so, it was a pretty satisfactory day for this time of the year: 71 handled with 55 banded.
Banded 55:
1 Downy W00dpecker
1 Eastern Wood Pewee
1 Traill’s Flycatcher
3 Swainson’s Thrushes
2 Gray Catbirds
1 Warbling Vireo
2 Philadelphia Vireo
4 Red-eyed Vireos
5 Nashville Warblers
3 Chestnut-sided Warblers
3 Magnolia Warblers
3 Blackpoll Warblers
4 American Redstarts
1 Ovenbird
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Scarlet Tanager
1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
3 Song Sparrows
1 White-throated Sparrow
14 American Goldfinches
Retrapped 16:
1 Eastern Tufted Titmouse
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
2 Swainson’s Thrushes
2 Gray Catbirds
1 Red-eyed Vireo
2 Blackpoll Warblers
2 Common Yellowthroats
2 Northern Cardinals
2 Song Sparrows
1 American Goldfinch
ET’s:  52 spp.
Fall Banding Total: 562
Year-to-date Banding Total: 3,205

1 thought on “September 12th – A Big Round

  1. VERY uncool is exactly right. I grew up in the UK in the 1950s when bird-watching was very much the sort of thing that tweedy, retired army majors or gap-toothed, batty, old spinsters did. Without the luxury of binoculars my early interests were mostly centred around finding birds’ nests and from that grew limited knowledge and skills.
    But perhaps paradoxically there was a very deep undercurrent of appreciation of ‘nature’ that ran throughout the populace. The BBC did (& still does to a lesser extent) devote many hours to radio (& subsequently T.V) nature programmes. David Attenborough’s spectacular series on the natural world are perhaps the best known these days.
    I used to listen to a weekly BBC radio programme for children called Nature Parliament in which famous explore/naturalists/ artists like (Sir) Peter Scott, James Fisher & Keith Shackleton would answer questions (sent on a postcard please): questions like “We went for a jolly nice walk and a black and white snake bit my dog and now it’s dead. How can I get one to bite my brother?”
    So the BBC thought nature was very cool, but those of us who openly showed interest as a child (or worse as a teen) were marginalised.
    And finally, the study of natural history was main stream science in the 19th century. Perhaps that’s why the
    BBC clung to it well into the 20th century.

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