Parallel universes


Male Common Yellowthroat, a frequent visitor at the banding station.

Unusually heavy rains have put much of the banding station underwater for the past three months. One side effect of this is that, on the days when the area is sufficiently dried out for us to squelch out in our rubber boots and band birds, the mud shows the tracks of everyone else who has been out there before us.

Usually the denizens of the banding station of whom I am aware are the birds we catch in the nets and band. These tend to be small- to medium-sized songbirds. The mud reveals an entirely different set of creatures living in the area.


Raccoon hand prints near a human bootprint.


Egret footprints

There seems to be little overlap between the mud-animals and the netted animals—with the exception of the sparrows, who sometimes turn up in the nets with muddy feet.


Golden-crowned Sparrow


Song Sparrow

Some of the track-leavers would be happy to snatch a bird from our nets as an easy snack, which is why we patrol the nets diligently.


Gray fox (?) tracks.

I have known for a while that the banding station is bustling with hidden wildlife, thanks to the portion of that widlife that turns up in our nets, not to mention the racket of birdsong at sunrise.


Hermit Thrush.

The mud tracks demonstrate that this area—a former orchard that has been restored to an unassuming grassy, brushy patch of land—is teeming with larger, quieter animals too.


Duck and raccoon prints


Lots of little squirrel (?) footprints, and something canine (coyote?) running.

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