Along the Natchez Trace

Monday, June 8, 2015

Northern Maine Birding Festival - Part 1

The big event of the year for Aroostook NWR was this past Saturday.  At 4:30 am it was raining, and we wondered just how this would affect the attendance.  Last year over 200 people came to the event, but one reason was that a well known conservation group brought several raptors for a presentation.  The presentation this year was put on by a young man from a bird sanctuary that rehabs owls.  It isn't as well known, and with the crappy weather, we just didn't know.  As it turned out, the rain quit by 5:00 and even though it was fairly chilly, there was a slight breeze that kept the insect population down.

Steve, the Ass't Manager came up from Moosehorn (refuge headquarters) the day before.  He doesn't get up as often as he'd like, so he wanted to man the Entrance Tent...  greeting the visitors and handing out brochures and the like.  While for many it's kind of a tedious job, he had a chance to meet the public as they entered.

The Aroostook Birders Group were co-hosts for this event.  While we got the maintenance building set up for the owl presentation, did the general housekeeping, like mowing and providing trash barrels and the like, and the Aroostook NWR Friends group helped with parking vehicles and working with the children's activities, the Birders Group gave the birding tours and provided the special events.

Bill Sheehan is in charge of the birding tours.  The first tour was to leave the parking lot at 6:30...
We were to car-pool as much as possible and caravan down the refuge road to a few birding "hot spots".

Bill draws a crowd every time!
He is an expert birder and is also an excellent people person.  I've been on several of his birding walks and am always eager to hone my birding skills through his expertise.

Nope...  not a big bird!
We were lucky enough to spot not one, but two moose in the marsh.  I don't know where all the participants were from (I did meet a couple who came from Pennsylvania just for this event), but everyone is thrilled when they see a moose.  Doesn't even matter if it's a cow...  all binoculars are trained on the critter.

Meanwhile, back at the Visitor Center...

Jonathan, a member of the Friends group, manned the Nature Store and information booth until he was relieved.  He spent the rest of the morning directing parking.

One of the exhibitions was Bird Banding.
If you really look close you might be able to see the mist nets back in the woods.  During the early session, they caught 2 birds in the nets.

I don't have names or anything, but this guy showed us all how he weighs and measured birds...  their body fat etc.  His co-worker was the scribe... recording the bird band number and other pertinent information.  Those are his "tools of the trade" in the lower right photo.
Bill and I have worked several banding areas...  everything from rocket netting to mist nets, even to waiting for waterfowl to molt and herding them to be captured.....  but I never tire of being involved even if just a spectator.

The Refuge has several kids activities...
Prior to the event, Bill cut cedar boards into the parts to build bluebird boxes.  Bill and Ron, another Friends volunteer helped the kids put them together to take home.

This little girl shows off her finished nesting box.

Ron's wife, Barb has another project for kids...
Take a large pine cone, smear peanut butter all over it, then roll it in bird seed.  Kind of a fun project.
But, these days, you have to ask if the kid is allergic to peanuts!  I don't think any of these kids were as they seemed to be having a good time.

I hope to post Part 2 tomorrow....  
More about the owl presentation and the final count for the day...  both visitors and bird species...  

That's All For Today!


  1. Looks like a big turnout and everyone seems to be having fun:)

  2. It's a bluebird nest; good for the young woman. All the educational and fun projects are a lot of work, but good for the participants.

  3. Great post. I soon want to see a moose. Not likely in Sussex. My kids would have loved to have made those nesting boxes to take home when they were young. I'm sure they're a winner. My oldest is allergic to nuts. She is very particular about only buying brands that label may contains.

  4. LOVE your posts! There's never a dull moment, and you always have so much good information to impart!! Thanks to you!!!

  5. And again I must say, "what a wonderful way to spend your time".

  6. I'll bet those big birds had everyone's rapt(or) attention.

  7. Great event for the visitors and park staff. Shoulda had Alberta weather though. Hot and dry like Arizona.

  8. Now that sounds like a wonderful fun day there for you and all the visitors.