Baby eiders bob like feathered corks along the shore in some places this month. You often see several female eiders and perhaps 20 or 30 baby ducks together on the water. The adult females are ‘babysitting’ so the other females can feed. Quite often there may also be one or two immature males from the previous year not far off.
Green frogs croak like a plunking banjo in local ponds. It is a pleasant and peaceful sound. Green frogs and bullfrogs are the largest of the local frogs and they are not hard to identify. On the green frog, there is a ridge of skin around the frog’s head and on down to the frog’s back leg. The bullfrog has a ridge of skin around the head and down to the front leg. The bullfrog is also the larger of the two frogs and it has a deep voice that sounds as if it is saying ‘jug o rum.’
In shallow ponds, brooks and springs, the green frogs live a fairly solitary life watching for spiders, insects, newts, earthworms and fish. They always sit facing the water so if danger threatens in any form they can slip in the water and hide.
Egg laying for these frogs takes place in May. The female attaches large gelatinous egg masses, sometimes covering an area of 1 square foot. Each small egg case in the mass contains one egg, which hatches in about a week. An olive–green–colored tadpole with a creamy white belly then begins life. This tadpole stage lasts one or two winters. By the time the tadpole is ready to complete the transformation into a froglet, it is slightly over 2 inches long. These froglets have many enemies, but out of the thousands born, a good number do survive to make a mighty chorus in marshes and ponds each spring.
You might get lucky and hear a whippoorwill call this time of year. It used to be common, but they are quite scarce these days. They are very easy to recognize since they loudly and clearly say their name, WHIP-POOR-WILL, over and over! Many years ago, I used to hear them call in Bass Harbor, but I’ve not heard them in recent years. The most recent reports have been from Otter Creek.
Hummingbirds are back, but I’m sure they suffered recently when we had rainy and cold nights. Keep your sugar water feeders ready for them. DO NOT USE HONEY.
If you find a seal pup on the beach alone, STAY AWAY FROM IT! The mother is off feeding and any interference from you may cause the mother to reject it.
I saw yellow-bellied sapsucker (if you’re old enough, you may remember TV host Johnny Carson having fun discussing this bird on his show). Its name may be strange, but the bird is very beautiful. It just comes here in the warmer months to nest. Often you know the bird is here when you find the precision–type holes it drills in local fruit trees. Check the bark on any fruit tree and you’ll surely see the holes.
The woodpecker is very colorful. It has bright red feathers above and below the bill; notice the white patches on wings and back and a yellow belly. We were stopped at a food stop nearby when one flew into the tree next to the car, and I just happened to have my binoculars handy. Look for this one.
There are so many flowers to see now, and birds are nesting. It’s a good time of year to be out and about and paying close attention to the world around you!
This week’s special bird was a bobolink building its nest in a field. This Southern bird, often called a ricebird, is just visiting here to nest. In years past, they were widely and commonly shot in the South because rice growers did not like them. The one I saw was in a local field working on a nest. It is said that the nest is very carefully made and strong. It works for them and is well hidden. Unless you see them make it, you would not find it. The bobolink is a bird to look for over fields or sitting on the wires nearby. They look as if they have a dress suit on backwards.
The bobolink’s song is a bubbly one and full of joy. One person described it as sounding like the notes on an old Greek harp. As a musician, I liked that! Look for a bobolink in all the local fields and on Buttermilk Road off island in Trenton.
Let me know what you are seeing or if you have any questions. Email me at [email protected].com.