Date: 4/30/17 2:54 pm
From: Gmail <butchchq8...>
Subject: Re: a bird in the hand.....
This is a great story, because I have been on both ends of this conundrum.

When I first started banding bird regularly, I often had to hold the bird at a distance and squint to figure out what it was! Then after a while, you start to see field marks in the hand that you don't even know existed. It was like seeing ordinary birds for the first time all over again.

Of course, it's always fun to stump a snooty field birder or two with birds in the hand, because they often do get it wrong. I've seen expert birders miss female Indigo Bunting and Swamp Sparrow before much to their chagrin. We just forget how much habitat and behavior play an important role in making field identifications.

It's also taught me that, no matter how long we been birding/banding, we always have more to learn.

Thanks for sharing!
Butch Tetzlaff

> On Apr 29, 2017, at 17:52, Ragupathy Kannan <0000013b0ad14faf-dmarc-request...> wrote:
> 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!".
> Kannan
> Ft. Smith

Join us on Facebook!