By Maeve Cosgrove, Maine Conservation Corps Stewardship Intern
It’s tricky working by a window as a birder. The demands of the day can easily fall to the wayside when there is a portal granting unlimited access to outdoor happenings just beyond or, in my case, above the computer screen. The challenge to look away from the birds is especially daunting at the Coastal Mountains Land Trust office, which overlooks a far-reaching finger of the Megunticook Lake, hidden in the white pines at the wooded base of Mount Battie. On my first day at the office, I was welcomed by bluebirds and their cascading calls. Though less melodic, the squawking nuthatches were equally exciting to watch from my new desk, scurrying up trees and hanging upside down from the bark.
A new window heralds a new window list. It’s a way of getting to know the neighborhood really, keeping track of the avian locals. Tracking the birds in one spot day after day, sometimes called “patch birding,” also reveals clues about our ever-changing environment. While it’s nice to hear the high whistles of robins in Camden during January and catch their red breasts like slashes of ribbons in the winter landscape, their presence could be a symptom of climate change.
A few weeks into my tenure at Coastal Mountains, my office window list has accumulated 18 species. Two pairs of goldfinches were the latest additions, having flown or blown in from over the lake to take refuge in the bare arms of a birch. Luckily for the finches they arrived a few hours after a red-tailed hawk made its debut on the list.