Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Drought in Maine; Male Purple Finch

I mentioned in an earlier post that I'd never seen the area around Little Pond so dry.  A quick look at the U.S. drought monitor revealed the following graphic:

U.S. National Drought Monitor Map for Maine, July 12, 2016

Little Pond is in Oxford County, the large county forming the western border of the state.  Nearly the entire county is listed as yellow, which according to the drought monitor is considered abnormally dry.  Little Pond is on the little southeast nub of the county, and very near the tan color, which is one step drier on the scale and is considered to be an area of moderate drought.  It definitely showed on the landscape, primarily in the form of the white pines looking quite thin and even brown in places, reaching high up into the trees. The brown needles littered the forest floor, which was crunchy with drought compared to its usually soft touch underfoot.  It took a while to get used to!

The local newspapers were recounting stories of wildlife in search of food from people, especially bears, because of the poor fruit crop (think Maine blueberries- yum!) due to drought.  I noticed that there were more birds than ever at the feeders this year, perhaps responding to the low fruit production as well.

One bird that I saw more than ever, and that that I enjoyed watching was the purple finch.  I've never seen one in Ohio, but they are around, especially at feeders in the winter.  Many Ohioans mistake the house finch for the purple finch, but the latter is a much more colorful bird.  This year in Maine, several pairs readily came to the feeders.  I happen to catch this male displaying with wings open and moving rapidly up and down and crest straight up.  Was it for a female?  I believe so, but I was focusing on the bird and not what he was trying to attract!

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