OSU Fisheries and Wildlife
Our wonderful enthusiasm at collecting the bird feathers, blood samples, and invertebrates has produced a daunting amount of work in the lab, particularly when it comes to processing the snails. Being sedentary, the lack of work needed to convince the snails to go into the tiny vials in the field made them the most preferred target. Being newbies to the work ahead, we gleefully poured snail after snail into our little vials, not knowing the dexterity and time required to pull each whole muddy snail out of its home.
But now that we’re in the lab we have been doing the prep work while the mercury analyzer is being fixed. This consists of identifying invertebrate families from each site and then sorting and cleaning them to be put in the oven as well as prepping the feathers. The body feathers are placed in envelopes to separate them by bird, while each tail feather gets its own envelope (we usually pull two tail feathers from each bird in the field). Although pulling snails out of shells and placing cleaned feathers into labeled envelopes can get tedious, it allows time to catch up with fellow interns and learn the typical goings-on in the laboratory. The lab work is much more independent than the field work; it was much more team driven with our whole net and band system. But it is very satisfying to get each site finished and ready for mercury data. With the work that has been contributed towards the project, it will be very rewarding to see the results down the road.