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It's been a while. Nothing new has happened, really. Yesterday we didn't work until about 10:30, and then only for less than two hours, because the weather was so bad; it was thundering and lightning(ing?) where we work in the Spring Run Complex.

I said last time that I needed to talk about helping Jen with the bird blood draws, so I'll do that now.

Jen, my boss, is looking at the Red-winged Blackbird nestlings' stress hormone. According to studies, they start producing this hormone, or at least it starts to show up in their blood, no sooner than 3 minutes after they are handled. She wants to look at their stress, not including this hormone. I.e., she wants to see how stressed they are NOT in terms of our handling them.

For example, if the birds are getting enough food, theoretically they should be less stressed. So basically, this means that I, or whoever helps her that day, needs to gather up 3 to 4 nestlings, come back a few feet to wherever she has set up all her blood-drawing stuff (needles, capillary tubes, small vials, etc.), give her the nestlings one at a time, and keep them all straight, all under 3 minutes.

The first time I helped her I wasn't fast enough getting them out of their nest. They felt sticky, and their little claws clung to their dry grass nest. "Holly, you need to be faster than that!" Jen called out to me. "It's already been thirty seconds!"

So I hurried back with the four nestlings, three of them in the bag and one in my hand. I handed her the first nestling. She poked it and took its blood in three little capillary tubes. While she did this, I carefully disentangled another nestling from the bag o' birds, and handed it to her as she handed me the poked first nestling.

I tried to put pressure with the cottonball on the first nestling's little poke to quickly stop the bleeding. Then I handed her the third nestling, etc. To keep track of which nestling is the first, second, third, and fourth, when one is done bleeding, I put him/her in the little cloth sack labeled "1", then the second in the bag marked "2", etc.

All this goes on while the parents are circling overhead or going back and forth, clucking disapprovingly. It isn't nearly as stressful as when in the Common Tern colony last summer in Maine though!!

Anyhow, it's always nice to help Jen, because that means less time spent nest-searching! :) Yesterday we got the three nestlings' blood done in less than 3 minutes, so that was good. Then Jen weighs and measures the wing and tarsus measurements of each nestling.

Last Saturday I decided to get in a few extra hours and go check on some nests. I made the bad decision to wear my jeans and hiking boots, rather than rubber boots. I was wet above my knees within minutes. I found a new bird nest as well, and I was really excited about finding it! The female flushed, and then I looked down, and there was her nest!

That's the way it's supposed to be when nest-searching....and I wasn't even nest-searching; I was just walking! Later on during the week, Erica identified the female as a Common Yellowthroat. Unfortunately, it was missing an egg when we went back to check it that week. :( So maybe a predator has found it. But it remained at that number of eggs for the rest of the week, so that's nice. Hopefully that egg just....rolled out or something....?

Anyhow, Sunday I go birding with my friend Will, so that should be fun.

In other news, I read my first book for this trip, Mission Road by Rick Riordan. I liked it so much!!! It was my friend Lydia's recommendation for an author. I go back to the library tomorrow and am hoping to get more by that author. That book kept me going till the last page; it was full of twists and turns!

That's it for now. :)

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Jul. 13th, 2009 04:57 am (UTC)
Hi Holly. Just finished reading your two most recent entries, for July 1st and 10th. Glad you are keeping this on-line journal. It's interesting to read about your daily life, bird research tasks and adventures, etc. The part about having to help with bird blood draws sounds sort of stressful, mainly the time limit you have to work within. I also liked your story about going to the 150-seat theatre, and your faint hope of having a cute guy come in and sit beside you. Too bad they were all 10 years old and younger.

Mom talked with you on the phone when you called earlier today. Sounds like you and Will had some fun, and I'm sure you welcomed spending some time with a friend from "home" and being out of the same old routine for a few hours.

My daily prayer for you is that God would encourage you, help you have joy in your day, and help you make the most of this experience, as you go through it day by day. Sounds like you are doing pretty well so far!

Have a great week, and remember, you are nearly past the half-way mark in this summer internship: 4 weeks behind you, and only 4 weeks plus one day to go, before you come back to Oregon! Love, Dad
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