Bird #128 — Savannah Sparrow

passerculus (little sparrow) sandwichensis (of Sandwich, Unalaska, in the Aleutians)

Thursday, April 17, 1980 — 4:45 pm

Deerfield, Illinois — Trinity College

I was still working at Moody Distribution in Northbrook at this time.  On Thursday evenings, I went to Trinity College for a psychology class.  I got off work about two hours before class began, and I often spent the interval birding at the college.

On the campus was an overgrown garden where the married students grew vegetables in the summer.  I spotted several sparrows feeding in among the weeds and dried vegetable plants.  I chased them back and forth for a long time, trying to see the field marks.  Whenever I flushed one, it would fly a short distance and land, usually out of sight on the ground, but occasionally in one of the tiny trees in the area.  Since I had time, I continued chasing them until I saw all the marks, including the notched tail.

There was a large cornfield next to the ball field at Trinity.  I occasionally walked across this field to get to the pond where I had seen my lifer Hooded Mergansers the previous fall.  On one of these evenings before class, I started walking across the field.  I noticed that it was muddy, but it didn’t seem too bad, so I continued on.  As I went further, things got stickier.  The mud began caking on my shoes, and with each step I sank deeper.  Soon I was stuck in the middle of acres of mud with no way to go.  I headed for the nearest edge, but long before I got there, I had a serious problem.  My shoe sank deep and stuck.  When I lifted my leg, my shoe stayed.  I had no option but to dig it out and carry it.  A few steps later, my other shoe came off.  I walked back to my car in my socks, carrying my shoes.  It was not a very warm day, and my feet got very cold by the time I arrived.  My shoes were covered with mud.  My socks were a lost cause.  And my feet were frozen senseless.  I gave up on class and went home.

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