When to help, when not to

Daisies, valerian, vetch, wild azaleas, hawkweeds: The list goes on and on as new blooms “step on the stage” this month. Monarch butterflies are feasting in local fields and a nice sight to see. Their favorite food is milkweed.
A baby bat was discovered in an island attic this week and the owner wondered what to do. My best advice was to leave it right there and just close the door into the attic from the rest of the house and let the mother bat take charge of the situation. Every bat is precious these days after the white nose fungus attacked them in recent years so they should be welcomed and pampered. Bats are such great consumers of insect, especially mosquitoes, that they should be encouraged whenever possible. I have seen very few bats this year in areas where there normally were many flying about.
Human intervention is necessary some times when young birds and mammals are in trouble as was the case one morning when I found a young phoebe hanging upside down on my porch. I thought at first that it was caught in a spider’s web but it turned out to be caught by a piece of monofilament that had been used to make the nest. Apparently the young bird had swallowed some of it and then when the bird tried to take off it was jerked back as if on the end of a fishing line. I was able to extract the line and free the phoebe. Only help wildlife when there is no other recourse.
A cherry tree at a friend’s house in Bar Harbor has been the feasting area for local birds in town. Even though my friends put netting over some of the tree in order to save some fruit for themselves, the birds enjoyed a bountiful feast as well. It almost seemed as if the birds laughed at them and their attempts to keep some of their cherries with netting. Waxwings, blue jays and starlings especially love cherries.
Only in recent years have wild turkeys been easily seen here on the island. They were successfully reintroduced a number of years ago and are doing well. These large birds are impressive when you come upon a whole flock next to the road thinking about where they will go next. When the leader finally comes up with a plan off they go at their own speed. Seeing a mother turkey with her multiple young birds is always a special treat. The young ones seem so small by comparison but she has them well under her control. The young are cared for entirely by the hen and they stay with her during the following winter and then are sent off on their own. The young birds can make short flights when they are about 2 weeks old. The male birds take no part in the nesting or raising the young.
A wild turkey is a big bird and if you surprise one as you move through a field or woods and it takes flight you are really surprised! These birds have powerful leg muscles and just seem to explode into the air for a short-distance flight. They have to fly to roost in the trees where they prefer to spend the night. Domestic turkeys do not fly. It is said that wild turkeys can fly up to 60 mph for a short distance. They are not high fliers. One bird I startled along the shore one day as I climbed up over the little dune took off like a noisy bomber. My small dog and I and the turkey were all startled. It was an interesting experience. The wild turkey flew a short distance and then landed in a tree at the edge of the woods nearby.
I had an email this week from readers near Beech Hill Crossroads—along with a nice photo—concerning two handsome guinea fowl. The birds were nearer to Beech Hill Road intersections than Route 102. These birds are domestic ones and someone may be missing them. Pass the word along if you live near the area.
I’ll be giving a lecture and having a signing of the our latest book called “Living On the Edge,” about plant and animal life along the seashore on Thursday evening, July 12, at 7 p.m. at the Bass Harbor Memorial Library. All are welcome.

Send any questions, photos or observations to [email protected] or call 244-3742.

Ruth Grierson

Ruth Grierson

Send any questions or observations to [email protected] or call 244-3742.
Ruth Grierson

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