The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Posts tagged birds

  • Wing'd XXXII: Worth the Run

    | August 19, 2015

    Not often you see a dude rounding a hedgerow, coming down the trail at a lilting half-run, tripod hanging off one hand, but that's exactly what I saw last Tuesday. It was Josh Fecteau on the chase. He had news I hadn't heard. Wilson's Phalarope. In the marsh. From the dike.

  • Winged Wednesday, Fledglings edition

    | July 22, 2015

    Yesterday, a foggy morning in Southern Maine made for some interesting perspectives.

    Pea soup

  • Mothering Nature

    | May 10, 2015

    Catch me, mom!

    The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune Sunday edition, 5/10/2015.

    Because I love science, and because I have kids, I watch a lot of nature films. My favorite bit of animal cinema involves day-old ducklings emerging from a hole in a tree trunk and plummeting 50 feet down to the leaf-strewn ground below. Their stubby wings flap in vain, but the baby wood ducks all survive. Ducklings bounce, it turns out. Their mother, who had been waiting (anxiously? nonchalantly? impatiently?) for them to emerge, guides them to a nearby lake. Their real lives begin.

  • Wing'd XXXI: She's Got Legs

    | May 6, 2015

    One April long ago, my ornithology instructor took our class to Bowerman Basin to view an annual sandpiper spectacle he helped discover and document. Dr. Herman delivered us to an enormous flock of shorebirds and, as science students "seeking patterns in nature," charged us with tallying them.

    Western Sandpipers and Dunlins in Oregon. Photo by David B. Ledig and in the public domain.

    "How do we count such a huge flock of birds?" we asked the sage.

    "Count the legs and divide by two," was his wisdom.*

    Ever since, I've strived to get good looks at bird legs whenever I've got binoculars in hand. No, I'm not counting them; I'm checking them for bands. Steve also taught us the value of studying birds as individuals and as populations — and how both approaches are aided by a scientist's ability to identify specific birds reliably. To do that requires marking them and legs are the go-to appendage.

  • Creatures are the Best Teachers

    Wells Reserve Contributor | March 10, 2015

    Warning: Mildly graphic images of wildlife below

    Thanks to a couple of observant walkers, the Wells Reserve education programs will soon have a few new props to teach about our feathered friends out on the trails and along the beach. Last week, I received the bodies of a common murre and a red-tailed hawk that had been found dead: the murre found by volunteer-extraordinaire Stu Flavin along a beach during his morning dog walk; the hawk by a Reserve neighbor strolling through the woods. It’s always sad to see wildlife that have passed, and with these two birds the cause of death was unclear, though likely natural as they were found in their respective habitats. The silver lining for me is that they can live a second life as teachers, educating the public about their amazing adaptations and encouraging a deeper appreciation for their role in our natural world.

    Red-tailed Hawk Tail and Talon

  • Wing'd XXX: Wednesday Walk Wrap

    | January 30, 2015

    European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris, licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia CommonsMy tight-timeframe Wednesday birding routine started in March and carried on through December. Over that span I missed 7 mid-week morning appointments with the birds, but still completed 33 checklists accounting for 61 species.

    Starlings were evident on 20 surveys, crows turned up on 19, and a handful of species appeared 11 times: robin, bluebird, a sparrow, and goldfinch.

  • Wing'd XXIX: Rare Flycatcher is One-day Wonder

    | June 11, 2014 | Filed under: Observations

    A scissor-tailed flycatcher spends a few hours along the Muskie Trail.

  • Feathered Friending

    | May 31, 2014

    Barred Owl face

    The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune Sunday edition, 6/1/2014.

    My son and I were simultaneously awakened at 4am this past Sunday by the call of the wild. At first we heard what sounded like a howl, but then as the fog of sleep cleared, the noise resolved into the distinct calls who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all.

  • Wing'd XXVIII: The 2-Minute Bird Walk

    | April 2, 2014

    Mornings, driving in, Laudholm welcomes me. I loop in to park, take two bags in one hand and binoculars in the other, step out, push the car door shut, and lock it. Already I'm attuned, scanning, panning the landscape, listening for caws and chips.

    The entry walk, heading past the kiosk toward the big barn.Most days I'm rewarded. It's a long walk from the parking lot to the farmhouse door and the reserve is famously rich in bird life. With its grassy expanses, ancient hedgerows, mixed woodlands, and the estuaries just beyond them, it's a rare day when no bird moves or speaks during the pedestrian part of my commute.

    Four weeks ago, I added a twist to my routine. Every Wednesday, I'd measure my walk — both length and time — while logging each avian encounter. Then I'd submit my checklist to eBird, where it can be stored and shared.

  • In Like a Lionfish, Part 2

    | March 15, 2014

    Best way to deal with invasive green crab


    The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune and Making It At Home Sunday editions, 3/16/2014.

    In my last column (Sunday 3/2), I wrote about invasive plants and bugs, and how my bringing firewood into Maine from away could be biting off more than I could chew. This week, I’m still thinking about what’s eating our wood. Specifically, the wooden frame around the eave of my house.

    I’m pretty sure it’s a starling, and if it is, then I’m also giving up Shakespeare for Lent.