January 21, 2020

Songbirds’ serenade filling spring air

Spring is definitely here! Prior to our first long, soaking rain, neotropical songbirds were pouring into the state by the hundreds. Serenaded by Nashville, black-and-white, black-throated green, and northern parula warblers, I labored in the unusual heat last weekend, planting and getting my garden ready.

The unseasonable warmth made me feel as if I was behind schedule, and I imagined the birds felt that way, too. A frenzy of song surrounded me for most of the day. Not to be left out, the finches got into the act; purple finches sang lustily from treetops, while American goldfinches kept up a steady “per-chic-or-ree” from the boughs of white pines. Their voices sounded peevish and impatient. Three yellow-bellied sapsuckers engaged in verbal and drumming duels, which at times escalated to chases among the trees. Northern flickers fired their staccato, rattling calls.

Raptors made their presence known. Several times throughout the day I heard the clear, high-pitched whistle of a broad-winged hawk. At times it sounded as if it were coming from a stationary position; other times I got great views of the bird as it glided overhead while calling.

The avian concert actually began early that morning. Just before sunrise, I heard the Canada geese honking from the marsh behind the house. A barred owl hooted from afar while a pied-billed grebe laughed hysterically; an American bittern added its odd and non-birdlike vocalization – “gunk-a-lunk, gunk-a-lunk.” And as I brushed the dirt from my knees late that evening, I could hear a woodcock “peenting” above the din of the spring peepers. Ah, joyous spring!

Maine Audubon’s Penobscot Valley Chapter and Fields Pond Audubon will be hosting a series of bird walks around Bangor this month and into June. Yes, Bangor! You’ll be amazed at how many great birding areas there are around the city.

The odyssey begins on May 12 with a trip to Prentiss Woods; the Kenduskeag Stream Trail on May 15; Essex Woods on May 16; Brown Woods on May 22 (myself and Ron Cote will lead this particular walk); Maine Audubon’s own Penjajawoc Sanctuary on May 23; Saxl Park on May 26; and last but certainly not least, the Bangor City Forest and Bog Boardwalk on June 6. All walks are free. For more information and to sign up, please call the Fields Pond Nature Center at 989-2591.

Happy birding and happy spring!

Chris Corio, a volunteer at Fields Pond Audubon Center in Holden, can be reached at fieldspond@juno.com

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