Every time we go into the field to net and band birds, we hope to add a little more to our understanding of native birds and their life histories. Sometimes we come upon the unexpected.
On Sunday, at our Ritter Farm session, we had a good day in terms of both numbers and diversity of birds handled. It can be the common ones that give us the most to think about.
This female Red-winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus, below appeared to have something sticking out of its throat when it was extracted from the net. Sure enough, it had a piece of grass stalk (maybe Reed Canary Grass) embedded in its skin.
The way it stuck out it looked like it may be deeply embedded but upon closer examination we found it to be just through the skin and the wound had healed around the stalk. We decided to see if it could be removed but the skin was tight around the stem so we opted to cut the reed off as close to the skin as possible and release the bird as is.
The bird appeared in good health, behaved normally upon release, and gave indications of breeding. Even though we don't know how long the piece of grass had been in place, it doesn't seem to be harming the bird. Our hope is that the piece of vegetation will eventually fall off. We tried to imagine how this could have occurred and have a couple of possibilities but it does show that animals are victims of accidents just like we are sometimes.