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.