Date: 4/29/17 3:56 pm From: Ragupathy Kannan <0000013b0ad14faf-dmarc-request...> Subject: a bird in the hand.....
A bird in the hand is not easy to identify, especially if you're a field ornithologist. This humbling reality was brought home yesterday when I had no clue what this little 4-inch long bird that I found by our building was.
It had two wing bars, yellow lores, and vireo-like bill. I should have known, right? But I sent a photo to Kim and Sandy and Bill and Dan. Kim thought it was an Empi and sent me some Empi ID keys; Sandy was flummoxed too. She was not sure it was a flycatcher at all since it did not have rictal bristles; I even took the bird to my ecology lab and gave a little spiel on Empis.
And then Dan-the-bird-man nailed it. White-eyed Vireo.
Duh. This is a bird I could have said a mile away, even when it is not visible. Yet, when it was in my hand, I was foxed.
I narrated this to Doug James today. He said "Oh, it happens all the time! Field ornithologists are often clueless when they open a drawer of museum specimens in the Smithsonian. And vice versa. Museum people are often lousy in the field"
And then he ended with a classic Doug James anecdote. He said that when a statue of Ben Kimpel (UA English professor, 1952-83) was unveiled, some folks in the crowd said "It doesn't look like Ben", for which he retorted, "That's because he is not moving!".