Fields Pond Audubon Notebook
By Judy Kellogg Markowsky
Joni Dunn and I were walking along the Kenduskeag Stream when we saw an osprey perched on a branch about 30 feet away.
It’s a rare event when you can get so close to an osprey. We stopped and looked at this handsome bird.
It was a first-year bird with scaling, or white edges of each feather, on its back and wings and a buff-colored breast. Adult ospreys have a white breast and a brown-black back with no scaling.
We were so close that we could see its yellow eyes and gray legs and feet. Young, naive birds often let people get close.
Ospreys usually catch fish for their food, but I’ve seen an osprey catch a young redwing blackbird. Other local people have seen ospreys catch a gray squirrel and a ring-billed gull.
I recently watched an osprey take a bath at Marlboro Beach in Lamoine. It flew down to shallow water and flapped its wings in about 8 inches of water. Then it shook itself dry, much like a dog.
Another recent avian wonder came when I woke up in the pre-dawn darkness to the call of a whip-poor-will! Whip-poor-wills fly at dawn and sunset and on a moonlit night, but not on a dark night.
In spring, the female lays her two eggs on the ground with a layer of leaves. She lays her eggs about 10 days before the full moon so that the parents will have lots of time in the night to find food for their young. Much of their diet is moths, mosquitoes and beetles because those insects fly in the night.
Whip-poor-will habitat is a deciduous (shedding its leaves annually) or mixed (deciduous and coniferous) forest. Whip-poor-wills have the same colors of the brown oak leaves on the forest floor, making them well-camouflaged.
The whip-poor-will is becoming locally rare in much of Maine and the eastern United States, likely because of habitat loss due to suburban sprawl, predation by cats and dogs, and insecticides.
Fields Pond Audubon Center offers a class on Wild Mushrooms.
Greg Marley will focus on the skills it takes to identify mushrooms and weave in information about medicinal mushrooms, cooking tips — we’ll try some samples in the kitchen — collection basics and ethics, and more. Participants are encouraged to bring in examples for identification.
The class will be held 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2 The cost is $40 members, $45 nonmembers. Advance registration and payment are required.
For information on Fields Pond Audubon Center, call 989-2591.