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Monday, February 18, 2008

A Carolina Chickadee in the hand

"I have wreaked havoc with the ornithological society," MPB matter-of-factly states when I answer the phone.

"You what?"

"Mayhem, I tell you. You know this weekend was that backyard bird count?"

"Ye-es..."

"Well, so I reported all the birds I saw in my backyard on a nice, neat list, only then I got an email from the bird society woman asking me if I was quite sure I saw a Black-capped Chickadee."

"And are you?"

"Well, I replied back that yes, I was indeed sure. Only then I got another email from her asking if I was quite sure that it wasn't, by chance, a Carolina Chickadee, which apparently looks exactly the same. It seems that the Black-capped Chickadee's habitat is pretty much limited to a very specific area in North Carolina, and this isn't it."

"Oh, MPB, for shame."

"I know. So I sent her back an email saying yes, yes, yes, I was wrong, please change it to a Carolina Chickadee."

"And?"

"Well then she sent me another email telling me that all was fine." MPB's voice grows tight. "And that the two birds were often confused by those who moved here from the Midwest or the North! Like she was casting aspersions at me!"

I crack up. "Oh, MPB, I'm sorry to laugh, I really am. Did you reply back to tell her you were from here, how far your family goes back in Stokes County?"

"No, I did not, "MPB says haughtily, then begins to crack up. "Oh, Lucy, as if the daughters of the South have some innate bird knowledge!"

"MPB, reply back. Tell her you forgot to mention you also saw that bird that went extinct. Lots of them. What's it called?"

MPB is full-on laughing now. "Dear Ma'am, I forgot to mention the thirty Passenger Pigeons who live in my backyard."

"Yes!" I manage to gasp out before I am lost in laughter as well.
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