It’s fun to go back and see what I wrote while doing different field work over the past several years. The following is an email I sent to friends on May 2, 2007. My apologies to those of you who have already read this. For a quick background -- I helped a graduate student collect data for her PhD--her project involved nest searching and monitoring for orange-crowned warbler nests on Santa Cruz Island. It was an amazing place to live for a couple of months--its part of Channel Islands National Park. Maybe I'll write more about that later. For now, you should know that we named the bird territories after Simpson’s characters—but not any of the main ones. Also, this post contains graphic material that may not be suitable for all audiences.
The day began like any other day really…hiking in the dark, watching the moon set over the mountains, fog rolling into the canyons. I watched my B Canyon birds, Itchy and Scratchy—who were singing, as usual. And then I made my way down to Krusty's territory. Now, I found Krusty's nest about 8 days ago but alas, like the majority of the other nests we've found, it was predated.
So today my task was to watch for Krusty's sneaky female in case she's re-nesting. Instead, I stumbled upon Krusty feeding a fledgling. What?! So, I tracked down the fledgie and saw that it was banded which means it can only be one of Ralph's kids -- who are our only fledglings so far. So I continued to watch Krusty and Ralph's female feeding the brat and our only conclusion was that at some time, the two of them had gotten it on and Krusty felt some obligation to the kids. Helen went down the trail as I started packing things up and I heard her yelling—she found poor Ralph, father of 4, dead in the road. Head cleanly ripped off, color bands fully intact. (Photo below)