Freeport backyard a bird watcher’s paradise

Posted July 12, 2013, at 5:34 a.m.
A chipping sparrow gathering nest building materials tugs on loose threads from strips of clothing hung on a garden pole in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
A chipping sparrow gathering nest building materials tugs on loose threads from strips of clothing hung on a garden pole in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo
A chipping sparrow hops across a pole with threads it gathered to used for a nest in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
A chipping sparrow hops across a pole with threads it gathered to used for a nest in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo
A solitary vireo sits in its nest in a fir tree in Freeport, Maine.  The nest was woven onto the branches with grass, pine needles, birch bark and moss.
Robert F. Bukaty
A solitary vireo sits in its nest in a fir tree in Freeport, Maine. The nest was woven onto the branches with grass, pine needles, birch bark and moss. Buy Photo
A black-capped chickadee tears apart a small caterpillar before taking it to its nest in a birch tree in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
A black-capped chickadee tears apart a small caterpillar before taking it to its nest in a birch tree in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo
A clutch of phoebe eggs lay in a nest under the roof of a shed in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
A clutch of phoebe eggs lay in a nest under the roof of a shed in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo
A day later five just-hatched phoebe chicks lay in a nest under the roof of a shed in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
A day later five just-hatched phoebe chicks lay in a nest under the roof of a shed in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo
Two weeks after hatching, five phoebe chicks crowd a nest under the roof of a shed in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
Two weeks after hatching, five phoebe chicks crowd a nest under the roof of a shed in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo
Two-week-old phoebe chicks are seen just before leaving their nest under the roof of a shed in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
Two-week-old phoebe chicks are seen just before leaving their nest under the roof of a shed in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo
An adult phoebe keeps watch near it's nest in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
An adult phoebe keeps watch near it's nest in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo
Hermit thrush eggs lay in a nest on the ground at the edge of a pine grove in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
Hermit thrush eggs lay in a nest on the ground at the edge of a pine grove in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo
A black-capped chickadee flies away with wood chips as it clears out the cavity of a birch tree while building a nest in Freeport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
A black-capped chickadee flies away with wood chips as it clears out the cavity of a birch tree while building a nest in Freeport, Maine. Buy Photo

FREEPORT, Maine — It seems every time I go out into my backyard I come across another songbird nest.

The first to move in were the robins, the subject of a Maine Frame photo essay a few weeks ago. They built a nest under the roof of my shed.

Apparently a pair of expecting phoebe parents figured the robins must know what they’re doing, so they built their nest under the same roof, just 6 feet away.

The location of the phoebes’ nest, just a couple inches below the plywood roof, made it impossible to get a camera overhead to photograph the five white eggs the size of jelly beans. Finally, it dawned on me to mount a mirror above the nest.

One morning while I was doing the dishes, a chipping sparrow caught my attention. I watched its unsuccessful attempt to pull threads from old strips of clothing I had used the previous year to hold up my tomato plants.

The next day I went into the garden and pulled out several strands of threads and laid them on the pole. Then I went inside and waited. Before I could finish my second cup of coffee, that same bird came back and quickly found the loose threads.

The chickadees nesting inside a birch tree were easy to identify but I had to find my old field guide before I knew I had solitary vireos nesting in a fir tree and hermit thrushes nesting on the ground under the pines.

I never did find out where that sparrow flew off with the threads from my old Carhartts, though.

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