30 October 2013


The morning started out like any other morning I have been birding. I walked along the road through the marshy fields, flushing up sparrows as I passed. Harris's, Lincoln's, Song, White-throated, and even a lone "Red" Fox Sparrow made an appearance in front of my binoculars, as flushed snipe zipped past me, thousands upon thousands of Franklin's Gulls passed overhead, and sporadic groups of blackbirds made their way across the fields. I made my way further and further into the wetlands as a lone Le Conte's Sparrow hopped up to check me out and Eastern Bluebirds called nearby.

It was then that my bliss was shattered. Something wanted to quash my happiness, and the jarring calls of discontent quickly dragged me out of my dreamlike morning. I slowly turned, face wrinkled by the perturbation of my idyllic mood, ready to see what beast was ready to pick a fight with me. I stood tall, did my best to look stoic, and braced myself for what came next. The stalks moved and I quickly realized I was outnumbered. It was too late for me to do anything but wait for my taunter and its sidekick to come face me down, and soon, I was looking at a face of pure malice.

The downy pinfeathers around the face denote that this is a young bird, most likely a rebellious teenager that has serious issues with authority.

My foe came out, ready for a fight. Its sidekick, skulking nearby, cheered it on as it challenged me to a showdown. I raised my camera, capturing a few shots for evidence should the situation continue to get out of hand. They chattered back and forth, and soon deemed me unworthy of even a simple verbal bashing. Not ready to settle, I did my best impression of the Passerine call for "WHAT ARE YOU, CHICKEN?"

My challenge was immediately accepted. Barrelling back out of the brush, we gazed into each others eyes, sizing each other up, until we realized we were evenly matched. Any fight would end in a stalemate, with the potential for serious injury for both. I snapped a few more shots as the situation calmed, and soon, we were able to diffuse the situation and interact more peaceably. My adversary soon backed down, and I followed suit, acknowledging that the fight was over, and that we had reached a mutually beneficial outcome.

I walked away, tingling from the adrenaline from the encounter. I had faced down a Sedge Wren with attitude and lived.

Sedge Wren (Cistothorus platensis stellaris) in Baker Wetlands, Lawrence, Kansas.

Note: This post may or may not have some artistic license and the anthropomorphism of birds should be considered fictional. The Sedge Wren and it's inherit sense of entitlement, however, are all too real.

23 October 2013


The month of October has been a frenzy of activity. I find myself believing that I did things the day before or just last week before coming to the conclusion that they were actually weeks, and sometimes even a month, ago. I find myself busier than ever before, and I love it. I now find myself doing the research and learning that I have waited years to do.

So far, October has been a good month. In addition to working in Kansas, I managed to sleep away for a long weekend and visit Caroline in Louisiana. She then quickly whisked me away to Alabama, where we went camping at Gulf State Park. We explored the white sand beaches and coastal pine savannas before returning back to Louisiana together. It was a fun couple of days.

A Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) defending its territory from another nearby mockingbird. These boisterous birds were calling throughout the night, much to our chagrin.

Caroline Bath walking down the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. She was pretending to be a Sanderling.

Also of note, I finally locked down my plans for November. Come the 17th, I will be on my way to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, to do a scouting trip of the country! If all goes according to plan, I will return in the near future. Feel free to check out our Facebook page to find out more about our survey expedition! I will also be updating my blog about the trip when I come back.