Thank goodness I’m finally healthy enough to attend a banding! I was afraid I was going to miss the whole danged thing this year. Right in time, too. I’d HATE to miss the Uptown Theater banding most of all.
As always, Dave the caretaker was outside the door of the theater when Mary, Katrina (Lincoln Park Zoo vet tech) and I arrived. I genuinely like Dave, so it’s a pleasure to catch up with him every year. While we were doing just that, Matt, Kanae (longtime Uptown monitor) and John (Brookfield Zoo vet tech) arrived. The banding team complete, we prepared to go into the theater, but Dave stopped us, saying that he had two more guests on their way.
Maybe three minutes later, a man and woman joined the group. I recognized the man from last year, but couldn’t remember his name. Fortunately, David reintroduced me to Wally, an administrator for Uptown United and his partner Elizabeth. It didn’t take long for me to notice that they had what looked to be a lot of camera equipment with them and considering I’m an enthusiast, I inquired. Turns out, Elizabeth is the midwest regional manager for Canon! BUH!!!!
THIS, my friends, was an exciting development (puuuuunny).
We all followed Dave into the theater while I tried my best not to go fangirl all over Elizabeth. I chatted casually with her and Wally while we made our way up to the balcony staging area and while Mary and Matt unpacked the falcon banding gear, I loitered in the camera expert’s vicinity, eager to see what might come out of those cases.
The first rolling case contained a huge array of lenses and although I couldn’t make out through the murk exactly which ones she had with her, I did recognize the familiar profile of the 70-200mm Sean and I have. The next case….oh, the next case. Le sigh. Give me a minute.
Ok. The next case contained the treasured EF 500mm f/4.0 L IS USM, which is a lens Sean and I have googled about ten thousand times. There must have been a light in the case, because when she opened it, a shaft of golden light shone out across the darkened theater. I also heard angels singing, so she must have some sort of mp3 player in there as well. When she lifted it out, I admit I drooled a little.
And then I remembered why I was there – banding day! The task of the day snapped me out of my camera stupor and I pulled myself away from Elizabeth and Wally, rejoining Mary and the gang at the banding table. In my absence, Matt had changed into banding gear and looked ready as ever to go out and get the chicks. Kanae was all set up over near the door to the fire escape, her own Canon firmly in hand. Dave gave everyone a nod and opened the door. Moments after Matt slipped outside, we heard the familiar screeches of angry and protective falcon parents along with the distinct *thunks* of talons on bicycle helmet.
Matt’s REALLY fast, so he was back down in no time. As I posted before, Mary and I had done a nest check earlier in May, when the chicks were about a week old or so. Mary had seen three chicks, but said that they were in a pile, so there might be a fourth. When Matt opened the box lid, we had an answer — FOUR Uptown chicks!
Sometime late last year, or even possibly early this year, I had a message from Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert regarding some of the Uptown Theater pictures I’d taken. He told me how much he loved the Uptown and that he’d seen some memorable films there early in his career. I passed this on to Mary and we decided it would be incredibly fitting to give Roger Ebert a falcon namesake at the Uptown. For this reason, I was keeping my fingers crossed that there would be at least one boy, but dearly hoping that there might be two so that we could also give Roger Ebert’s long time critic/partner and friend Gene Siskel a namesake as well.
I am happy to report, we had THREE baby males! The first chick we banded was named Ebert (b/r 14/D), and the second Siskel (b/r 15/D). The third was a female and Dave suggested Dolly (b/r 09/E), for the famous musical “Hello, Dolly!” The fourth turned out to be an easy one after Mary read the number on his USFW band: 1126-14007 — so, Bond (Pierce), of course. The “Pierce” is courtesy of Mary, who thinks Pierce Brosnan was by FAR the most handsome Bond (I agree).
Dave was particularly pleased to hear the Ebert story and we all thought it seemed absolutely perfect for the Uptown Theater to have it’s very own Siskel and Ebert.
Elizabeth turned out to be more than happy to talk cameras with a Canon fan, by the by. She even loaned me one of her very fast wide-angle lenses to take a shot or two of the theater interior. What a lens that was! Certainly now on my wish list for the future.
When the chicks were safely returned to the nest and Zoom and G/G were beginning to calm, Dave took Elizabeth, Kanae and I up to the other set of fire escapes that wind down the northwestern side of the building, opposite the nest. Elizabeth mounted her 5d Mark 2 (I think) on the massive 500mm lens and took some shots before asking me if I’d like to take some shots with our 40d. And so, I got a chance to spend some quality time with a lens I am pretty danged sure I’ll never be able to afford. What a thrill. WHAT a lens.
So, that’s the news from Uptown. I am going to write Roger Ebert an email and send him the shot of Mary holding his falcon. I realize that Mr. Ebert has been very ill for awhile now and as a lifelong fan of his, I hope that Falcon Ebert will give him something to smile about.