Editor’s Note: Each week, receiving Judy Markowsky’s new Fields Pond column for The Weekly and the Midcoast Beacon was a treat. She wrote for everyone with an interest in birds and other creatures, whether they were serious outdoor people or those who did their watching from a window. She led them all.
Probably my favorite piece that Judy wrote was one we ran separately in The Weekly in May, telling of her trip to California and on to Korea, getting her sons together and meeting her new granddaughter.
I thought then that she had done something that would make memories of a lifetime, birdwise and babywise. That will stay with me always. So will her last column, which her family has allowed us to publish.
Roxanne Moore Saucier
Editor, The Weekly
Great thing to see three species of wrens in one week! Around the world there are 60 species, and in the United States there are 10 wrens. (Your book of birds might have nine wrens, but in 2010 the winter wren was separated into two species — Eastern winter wren and Western winter wren.) Of the 10 species, five live in Maine. I was glad to see three in a week — the marsh wren, the house wren and the Eastern winter wren.
I went to paddle in Sedgeunkedunk Stream with Joni Dunn of Bangor Photo and saw marsh wrens. They live among cattails, reeds or tall marsh grasses. We heard their musical trill and then saw them holding onto the reeds.
Female marsh wrens make their nest using cattails and sedges for the outside and line the inside with grass and roots. They make five or six nests. Jonathan Mays of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says that male marsh wrens will build a few unlined and empty grass-sedge woven structures in addition to the female’s real brood nest, which is feather-lined and slightly larger.
House wrens live at the edge of the woods in shrubbery and brush. The male comes first and makes a nest in a natural cavity of a tree or in an old woodpecker hole or birdhouse. Their song is loud and bubbling.
The female house wren chooses a nest and makes it softer with grass and a few feathers. She then lays her six eggs, one egg daily. House wrens often will destroy other birds’ nests, puncture eggs or kill another bird’s young. For this reason some people don’t like house wrens. I have friends who have both house wrens and winter wrens on their property in Bangor.
The Eastern winter wren is the smallest of the wrens. The winter wren has a wonderful long and complex song of very tinkling trills and buzzes. They live in coniferous forests. I have often seen winter wrens along the brook at Fields Pond Audubon Center in Holden, but I have never found a nest at this site.
The only time I’ve seen a winter wren nest was at Quoddy Head State Park, and this nest was in a hole in upturned roots of a fallen tree. I peeked in and saw moss and feathers and six tiny eggs.
For more information on Fields Pond Audubon Center, call 989-2591.