Weekly Notes, March 10, 2013

Bohemian Waxwing

Bohemian Waxwing courtesy of Paul Cyr

The stunning picture above taken by Paul Cyr is of a Bohemian Waxwing.  They look very similar to the Cedar Waxwing commonly seen in Maine but have deep rusty color under the tail with bright white and yellow markings on the wings.  Noticeably larger and lacking the yellow belly of their cousins, these birds prefer Boreal Forests and Muskeag Bogs far to the north.

Another beautiful winter bird that travels all the way to the arctic tundra during the summer months is the Snow Bunting.  These ground feeders, most always seen in flocks are easily identified by their white feathers.  This flock was seen in Skowhegan Dma&g map 21

Snow Buntings

Snow Buntings

Ever wonder about the dead curled up leaves that linger on some of the oak and beech trees?  Called marcescence, oftentimes these leaves will not fall off of the tree until after the buds of the new leaves have started to swell.  Quick research will take the reader to several theories about why this occurs, including minimizing the deer browse of buds, protecting buds from winter cold to providing the tree with increased nutrients around the trunk in the spring, but the reason for this unique adaptation remains up for debate.  Perhaps it is just for us to hear them rustle when they blow in the cold winter winds reminding us that spring will come again.

We have a guest writer this week, an essay by Aime Declos reflecting on Morning Coffee: Twenty Minutes in My Backyard, can be read in Guest Field Notes...

The Maine Master Naturalist Program is accepting applications for its Falmouth and Holden courses for 2013-14. The organization’s goal is to develop a statewide network of volunteers to teach natural history at parks, conservation organizations, land trusts and schools throughout Maine. Upon enrollment, participants agree to volunteer 40 hours in the year following certification and must continue to volunteer to remain active Maine Master Naturalists.  The Holden course, to be held at Fields Pond Audubon Center, will run from June 1 2013 through June 4 2014, with 10 evening and seven Saturday classes; applications must be received by March 20. The Falmouth course, at the Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, will run from June 8, 2013 through May 21, 2014, with 10 evening and six Saturday classes; applications must be received by March 15.  Click here for more information and an application form

As we think towards spring, the migration has begun.  Our winter migrants will head north and the summer migrants will be arriving daily.  Although it is about 8 weeks before the hummingbirds arrive here in Maine, it is fun to watch the map change each week on Journey North.  Click here for the hummingbird maps...

In this week’s almanac, Daylight Savings Time begins today, March 10th, the moon will be New on March 11th. We can’t see the moon from earth because it is in conjunction with the sun, in other words, the moon is between the earth and the sun so the sun is shining on the other side of the moon and from earth only the dark side of the moon is visable.

When I was a child my father always had a challenge question for me, but he always explained things out, so that I would remember and here is what he did to explain the New Moon.  He placed a grapefruit on the table and held a flashlight shining down from above it.  Then he would take a small round object like a golf ball with the other hand and pass it between the flashlight and the grapefruit saying “see here, this is where the moon is in the sky when it is New.”  It was helpful to imagine that if I were a tiny person standing on the earth grapefruit, the golf ball moon would be obscured by the bright rays of the flashlight sun.  Give it a try.

I found some bright colored lichen the other day.  If anyone knows the name of these, please comment below and I will add the information.