Blood secrets

Sometimes doing science feels like doing magic. Take a fantastical witch brewing eye of toad and nightshade flower in a cauldron, substitute a 1.5 ml tube for the cauldron, AW1 Buffer for the nightshade flower, and blood of junco for the eye of toad, and that’s me.

(And that “eye of ___” thing happens in science too: a few of my herpetologist colleagues have been talking lately about what you can learn from preserved lizard eyes.)

One of the things I do when I capture a junco is to collect a blood sample. I use a sterile needle, collect very little blood, and don’t let the bird go until I’m sure the bleeding has stopped. The birds usually don’t even flinch. They act much more upset when I blow on their chests to look for brood patches (I think it feels cold to them) than they do when I take blood.

Me collecting blood from GRAY. The blood moves up the tiny capillary tube on its own. Photo by M. LaBarbera.

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