Valentine Farm Conservation Center (VFCC) is turning into a good place to find interesting birds. This year, migrating shore birds have stopped over in the flooded fields as they headed toward the artic where they nest. Great Horned Owls successfully raised two chicks deep in the woods. Veery and other thrushes have been common and are likely nesting. An American Kestrel, a small falcon, was recently reported. And, 19 different types of warblers have also been documented. An unusual warbler for our area, the Prairie Warbler, was also located this summer. The Prairie Warbler (photo by Mike’s Birds), with its worldwide numbers in decline, warrants a closer look.
Prairie Warbler males have a bright yellow face with a black streak under the eye like some football players wear. Its underparts are yellow with a black collar and streaks down its side. The top of its head, nape and back is olive. It has chestnut streaks between its shoulder blades. It’s an attractive bird, and its song is a distinct, “Zee, zee, zee, zee, zee” moving up the music scale. Maine is not typically considered part of its range, but they have been reported in our area from time to time over the past few years.
Prairie Warblers don’t really live on the prairie. They spend their winters in southern Florida, Central America and the Caribbean. They spend spring and summer in the South Eastern U.S. They prefer scrubby fields, coastal dunes, open pine forest, cutovers and field edges.
This male sang and sang probably hoping to attract a mate. We have no evidence that he was successful or hung around for long, but it was nice to have this unusual guest to Western Maine. I wish him well in his travels and invite you to come check out what else may be visiting our area.
James Reddoch, of Albany Township and Boston, leads birding events for the Mahoosuc Land Trust which celebrates 30 years conserving the natural areas of the Mahoosuc Region. Visit Mahoosuc Land Trust at 162 North Road, Bethel, ME or at www.mahoosuc.org. To learn about upcoming events or to contact James, send your emails firstname.lastname@example.org.