Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Day 281 - A Little Bird Told Me

The familiar "brrrrring" of Yahoo Instant messenger woke me at 12:36 a.m., just in time to catch Wayne online. Our brief conversation yielded the tastiest morsel of information I could imagine: a tentative date range to come home. We're keeping our fingers crossed, hoping we're actually under 60 days to his return!

Another day in the Alabama sun made for even sweeter sleep last night.

A few hops away, Bob Sargent and his Hummer Bird Study Group have just finished their 14th annual Autumn bird banding event at Fort Morgan State Historical Park. For many birds, Fort Morgan is the final stop before winter migration to the Andes Mountains, and the first landfall during spring migration north. The all-volunteer study group operates a two-week banding station each April and October.

Hummingbirds and other bird species are captured by a thin, black netting along meandering pathways. Once caught, the birds are banded, weighed, measured and photographed before being released unharmed.

Sargent says this year's event has been very successful, with the banding of over 2000 birds.

"We've been able to band a tremendous variety of neo-tropical migrant birds," he says. "Some of these birds are absolutely beautiful."