Swamp sparrow’s longer legs an advantage for wading

Posted Nov. 02, 2010, at 2:55 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 10, 2010, at 2:57 p.m.

HOLDEN — Fields Pond Audubon Center is a great place to see wildlife. Friends and I recently walked some of the trails and saw a variety of interesting wildlife and their signs.

Six swamp sparrows flitted among the cattails in the marsh. They were flying around looking for something to eat. Swamp sparrows eat more insects and fewer seeds than other species in their genus (song sparrow and Lincoln’s sparrow). Swamp sparrows evolved with slightly longer legs so they can wade in shallow water. They occasionally even put theirs heads in the water to catch underwater insects.

Next we found a porcupine in a large tree. The porcupine went into a cavity in the tree as we approached.

We found a few quills on the ground, and some were stuck on the bark of the tree. When we looked down, we saw that we were standing on a large pile of porcupine scat! Oh well, the smell of an herbivore’s scat is not as bad as the stench of carnivore scat.

Porcupines are herbivores — they eat buds, small twigs and inner bark of trees.

Speaking of scat, we also found a large scat of a large bear.

From the looks of its scat, we could tell this bear was feasting on many apples. As soon as the bear stops finding an abundance of food, it will start looking for a good place to sleep away the winter.

A group of three hermit thrushes kept our attention for several minutes. One thrush had a caterpillar with white fur in its bill.

I learned from young naturist Laura Giebfried that this caterpillar, spotted apatelodes, is one of the silkworm moths. There is an abundance of this species in the Bangor area this year.

A pileated woodpecker flew across our path and elicited a few oohs and aahs. This woodpecker is our largest woodpecker — 16 to 17 inches tall. It digs for grubs and insects in rotten logs.

Last thing to catch our attention was a large garter snake. We looked at the snake for a few minutes, because it is probably the last garter snake we’ll see for the season. These snakes hibernate in October and early November in rock crevices, rotten wood, mud banks or in holes.

Come enjoy a yoga class to get your body stretched and energized, then we’ll share a healthful snack together. A journey outside to explore the natural world will assist in awakening all of our senses.

Holly Twining, Maine Audubon naturalist and yoga instructor, will give the program 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6. The cost is $18 members, $20 others. Advance registration is requested at 989-2591.

For information on Fields Pond Audubon Center, call 989-2591.

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