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I have been helping out at IPBO (Innis Point Bird Observatory), and in doing so I’ve had the opportunity to hold many birds in my hands. IPBO does a Spring Migration Monitoring Program like many other observatories, which consists of bird banding and census (recording bird observations for an hour). The program starts before sunrise and ends 7 hours later, daily from the 24th of April to the 7th of June.

Holding birds in my hands enables me to do many more things with them than only hearing or seeing them from afar. Like mini-projects, for example. Now some people may think I’m crazy for doing this, but life’s too short to care. With all birds that are caught in my presence, I try to remember to do three things (within reason). 1) Smell the bird, 2) see if/how the bird bites, and 3) try to classify those observations. Here are results/classifications so far. How this works is that I have a category (a smell/bite description) and I list the species that fall under it. I’m not going to bother typing the whole species names, but here’s the link if you want to look up what the codes stand for: http://www.birdpop.org/docs/misc/Alpha_codes_eng.pdf

SMELL (Strongest to lightest)

– Strong/spicy/sharp almost detergent-like: BLJA,

Mild dusty, woody, stench-y: AMGO,

– Mild detergent-like, fresh, feathery: RBGR, WBNU (“Christmas tree” smell, credits to Celia, IPBO coordinator),

– Weak detergent-like, fresh, feathery: AMRE, BCCH, BRTH, CEDW, COGR,  GRCA, HAWO, REVI, SOSP, VEER,

– Other categories known but not yet experienced

BITE (Worst to lightest)

– Worse categories known but not yet experienced

– Mad pain, single constant chew: COGR, RBGR

– Piercing, double chews, spaced-out, really painful but no mark: REVI

– Piercing, single chew, spaced-out, painful but no mark: BCCH

Tolerable, non-flinching pain: AMGO, GRCA, HAWO (claws awfully painful), SOSP,

– Weak touch/no touch, no pain: AL+GCFLycatchers, AMRE, BLJA, BRTH, CEDW,  VEER,

General Comments: Smell – Most birds have a similar odour. Bites – Warblers and flycatchers usually bite weakly, if at all.

Still updated….2015: 7/06, 20/06; 2016: 20/03