A north wind at his back, the migrating catbird flew over the white capped waves rolling across Mobile Bay and into the dense woods of the Fort Morgan peninsula.
There, in a thicket at the edge of the seaside forest, his journey south across the Gulf of Mexico was temporarily interrupted as he tumbled into a nearly invisible wall of mesh netting.
Wings flapping impotently, the bird thrashed and called out as a pair of humans approached.
“There you go. Ooh, you’re mad. I can see that,” said Bob Sargent, big hands delicately removing the pewter gray bird from the entangling netting and then placing it in a small mesh bag. “Let’s see what we can do about getting you on your way.”
Within minutes, the bird had been weighed, fitted with a tiny metal identification band, given a physical, and then released to continue his southbound journey.
For more than 20 years, Sargent, his wife Martha, and a gypsy caravan’s worth of volunteer bird lovers have gathered in this place to band as many migrating birds as possible each spring and fall. The couple created non-profit Hummer/Bird Study Group to finance their efforts.