Friday, February 19, 2010

Did I ever tell you about the time...

Did I ever tell you about the time I caught an Olympic dove?

The History:

My senior year at BYU-Hawaii, I got the opportunity to go to the island of Saipan. The BYU-Hawaii biology department was going to perform some marine and bird research. I didn’t know much about either research topic, but when they asked if I wanted to go, I interrupted them by saying, “Yes!” It just plain sounded exciting.

Off we (3 students and 3 faculty) went to Saipan to catch marine creatures and birds (namely the Pacific Golden Plover). The bird research portion of the trip entailed waking up at 4:00am, driving to the Saipan Airport, going out onto the tarmac and setting up nets so we could catch the VERY elusive Pacific Golden Plover.

The Point of the Story:

One morning I noticed we had caught a dove in one of our nets. I walked over to it, untangled it from the nets, and held it in my hands (like you would a baby chick). I was about to set it on the ground and allow it to run/fly free when I had a brilliant idea. I had in my possession a dove. A DOVE! I suddenly romanticized that I was holding not just any dove, but an Olympic peace dove. It was then only fitting that I release that dove in true Olympic fashion. And with that last thought, I threw that dove up into the air (just like I’d seen them do in the Olympics). Only, it seems my dove had not seen the Olympics. The dove went up with the toss and then (to my horror) began to come back down. It hit the ground with a “thud.”

My thoughts upon not seeing my dove take to the sky:
“Did it die from fright?”
“I think it passed out. I’m not sure what a healthy heart rate is for doves, but it had to have been in the 200’s right before I tossed him up.”
“Doves are stupid birds… just like their cousins the pigeon.”

Those thoughts are verbatim. I remember them with perfect clarity because this experience was very memorable.

The story does not end there. Occasionally I’ve been known for my inability to give-up. This is one such occasion. I picked that dove up off the grown and gave it a second toss in the air. I was thinking it might just need a second chance; sometimes that’s all I need. The result was the same. He hit the ground again. I gave-up. Eventually (10 minutes later) that dove woke back up and flew away.

The Moral of the Story:

We’re not all cut out for the Olympics and don't throw doves in the air.

(setting out Pacific Golden Plover decoys)

(setting a Pacific Golden Plover free)