I miss the juncos. I see juncos around campus, but it’s not the same: they have no bands, so I don’t know who they are. (Except for the weird white-splattered junco, who doesn’t need bands to be distinctive. I was delighted to see him last week.)
I miss those warm, fragile bodies in my hand. I miss going back and finding them again and again.
I miss the mix of possibility and appalling vulnerability of nests and chicks.
I miss the other birds too, their astonishing variety of form and personality.
This non-field-season time – a time for data analysis and planning – is what justifies my disturbing these birds at all. I don’t deserve to hold them, to stress them out that way, unless I make good use of the data I gather; and to do that I need to take a break from the birds themselves.
But I still miss them.