I am getting some useful photographs of sheathbills, documenting their behavior. It's important to focus on things they're doing in this part of the breeding season, which they may not be doing by the time a vital part of our project, the artist, gets here. That way there will be photos and video for Terri.
I'm also trying to document some behavior for the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This is harder, because they prefer their recordings of bird sound not to be filled with generator roars, tractors backing up, and people shouting “Where's the bucket? Bucket. I said BUCKET!” Anthropogenic sound, they call that.
To a lesser extent, they prefer their video recordings not to feature birds in unnatural contexts, standing on man-made objects, and eating human junk food or, um, detritus. They want recordings of natural behavior in natural surroundings.
We all like that look.
This isn't so easy on station. Birds like a good view, and that is best obtained on top of the roof. They like to nest in sheltered places, and that apparently is often best achieved under buildings or shipping containers.
I was able to photograph sheathbills foraging by the water's edge, jumping from one piece of ice to another, in a natural behavior that looks as if it's taking place in a natural setting until you know that they are doing this right where the station's outfall pipe is, which carries (macerated) kitchen waste and sewage. It's a favorite spot for sheathbills.
Fortunately, Terri will not have that problem. She can draw and paint a sheathbill that is standing on a five-gallon drum and make it so it's standing on a tasteful rock, perhaps a rock splashed with lichen.
Meanwhile I'll wait for boating to resume, and try to find sheathbills acting natural. It's hard because I'm not allowed to bribe them.