June 20, 2018
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Redstart flycatchers migrate from Central, South America

By Judy Kellogg Markowsky

Hope Brogunier and Joni Dunn led 16 people on a bird walk along the Kenduskeag Stream. It was a sunny day, and many birds came out. Bird songs as well as sightings of warblers, flycatchers and orioles rewarded our efforts at an early start.

Our leaders found a beautiful, male redstart — a warbler. This bird was mostly black, with orange on his wings, tail and sides. The female is less vivid in color but still good-looking.  Where the male is black, the female is gray. Where the male is orange, the female is yellow.

Both redstarts flash out from a twig to catch flying insects and flush insects from the foliage. Some people will laugh about “flash” and “flush,” but in ornithology, it’s OK. Redstarts migrate from Central and South America to be in Maine.

A Nashville warbler was heard and then found. It is a handsome bird with a ring of white around the eye, a gray head, green back and wings, and yellow breast. They prefer a young forest, about 20 years old, with fir trees about 20 feet tall. Maine is the right place for them.

Nashville warblers come from Mexico and bring up their young in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada. They make their nest on the ground and are vulnerable to predation — one more reason to keep your cat inside.

A great crested flycatcher was seen atop a leafing-out red maple. This handsome bird has a slight crest on its gray head, a dark olive back, and much rufous on wings and tail. A great crested flycatcher is much larger than the previous birds — four times the weight, in fact — at 1.2 ounces versus the warbler weight of 0.3 ounces.

Great crested flycatchers eat large insects such as dragonflies and butterflies, and they fly from a twig to catch their prey. They also may hover over branches, gleaning insects off the leaves. These flycatchers nest in a hole in a tree. They may use a flicker or pileated woodpecker hole or a birdhouse with a hole 1¾ inches wide or larger. The nest often has a cast-off snakeskin in it.

Identification of bird nests is a fascinating science. If you are interested in what each bird makes for a nest, Fields Pond Audubon Center has a great book, “Field Guide to Eastern Birds’ Nests.” The store is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

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

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