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I've had the flu for a few days – the one where it feels like you've been
worked over with a crow bar in the head, muscles and joints. I was so sick I
turned down a free bunk on a 3-day Tortugas trip I'd been offered because
someone else had canceled at the last minute.

Anyhow, I'm actively shuffling around upstairs for the first time in a few
days, bemoaning my luck about the trip, when I hear some kind of kerfuffle
going on outside. I go to the window and there's a pair of grackles
scissoring about, making grackle-like noise, and above them – I couldn't tell
if he was following or just drifting in the same general direction – a
dark-phase short tailed hawk.

It was a nice thing to see after four days of CNN and chicken noodle soup,
especially since the migration has been a little unexciting in the Keys this
year, and especially since it's so late in the season to see a short tail.

So I stood there for a while watching, trying to figure out if it was after
the grackles or just sharing the same piece of sky at the same time. And just
before it passed out of view I saw it, a little arced gleam up about its
shoulders — a transponder antenae.

Odds are it was the same bird I had helped/watched Casey Lott trap in the Key
West cemetary late last November. He was doing it to help out Ken Myer, who's
trying to figure out where short tails nest (as I understad it). I'd held the
bird on my knees for probably 45 minutes while Casey banded it, took a blood
sample, and attatched the transponder.

It wasn't a free three-day trip to the Tortugas, but it was pretty nice.

Mark Hedden
Key West, FL

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