(L-R) Peggy, Dorothy, Vera, Wanda, and me
January 23, 1999
January 23, 1999
    If you've never chased sparruhz from one end of a thorn-n-bramble-infested field to the other, you haven't lived!!  That's how I and 4 of my fellow birdin' gals passed several hours this morning, in hot pursuit of an elusive Henslow's sparruh.

     This is how you prepare for such a task:  first, since the temperature this morning was a breezy 40 degrees F., you pile on 3-4 layers of long-sleeved T-shirts, sweatshirts, longjohns and jeans, topped by a warm jacket and a muffler.  Next, you haul on your trusty rubber boots because it rained several inches yesterday, and mud puddles and boggy spots abound.  Finally, you march briskly through the brambles, lifting your knees high in the air as you try to avoid the biggest, baddest, hip-high thorny-est vines ever created!!!  The object, of course, is to flush the sparruhz from their hidey-holes under the brambles so they'll fly a SHORT distance and perch (however briefly) on the knee-high branches of spindly bare trees that dot the field, so you can look at 'em.

     Alas, success is NOT a sure thing.  We flushed sparruhz from one end of  "the Henslow's Sparruh Field" in Longview (TX) to the other at least 6 times.  After about the third pass, the field was beginning to look like the stage floor after a strip-tease show; jackets and sweaters littered the field and my muffler and ear muffs were draped over a bush, as the girls and I huffed and puffed and flushed and chased those sparruhz back-and-forth, back-and-forth.  Well, sir, we never saw a single Henslow's, which leads me to believe that "the Henslow's Sparruh Field" is not so named because a Henslow's sparruh actually lives there, but because humans come there to chase the HOPE of finding one!!!!!

     We WERE rewarded, however, by the knock-down, drag-out, kick-ass BEST look at a LeConte's Sparruh I've ever had!!!  This little melon-yellow bird with the gray cheeks perched on a tree branch above us, about 12-15 feet off the ground, and posed there for at least 10 minutes!  As Peggy pointed out the "mauve nape" on its lovely neck, the bird turned his head around to show off its pinkish collar.  Frankly, I think the li'l guy felt sorry for us after watching us trudge up and down that field a few times with nothing more to show for our trouble than a million thorns in our jeans and sox.

     Not only THAT, but it wouldn't surprise me if, a few minutes after we left the field for good, ALL the sparruhz in that field congregated high in one o' those big ole pear trees and talked about the crazy humans who just couldn't seem to get enough o' chasin' sparruhz!!

     (NEXT time, we're gonna hire a teen-aged human "bird-dog" to flush the sparruhz while we set up our lawn chairs at the shady end of the field and wait for 'em to fly toward us.)
"Bird-watching:  the pursuit of what is elusive yet attainable,
an endless series of occasions for hope."
Story (c) copyrighted by Cyndie Browning 2002
This story was recorded
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Learning the Birds."
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This isn't the bird we saw, but it could be
his twin brother!!  Aren't they beautiful??
LeConte's Sparrow by Berlin Heck