Around Town with Michael

A male bluebird at the feeder

| Michael Fralich |

Bird Life List

I began my career as a columnist in 1986 for The New Gloucester News. It was Alma Berry’s “Nature Corner” from the News that I inherited upon her death. For years she had reported her wildlife sightings and passed along the sightings of others in her weekly report. I used the same model for my column, “Greetings from Norumbega,” until the paper ceased to exist in 2009.

In those days, we were living on Woodman Road. Two years ago we moved into the village after building a house across from the Congregational Church. I continue to watch for wildlife here in the village. I have seen a mother doe and her twins in our back yard. We have also hosted midnight visits from a rotund raccoon. He or she has come for my birdseed and suet on our deck, much to the annoyance of our two English shepherds.

Now I mostly take note of the birds who come to our feeding station on the back deck. I offer sunflower seed and suit cakes in a variety of feeders and feeding trays. I never kept a traditional “Life List” of birds I had seen until we moved here to the village. I bought a hardbound copy of Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Birder’s Life List & Journal. I have recorded nineteen species of birds who have visited our feeders. I have taken great pleasure in discovering a new visitor not seen before here. Most recently I have been excited to host a male and female Eastern bluebird. I have never had bluebirds at a feeder before.

My most memorable feeder visit was one early summer morning. Two mourning doves had landed in my box platform feeder. I do not get visits from doves often so it made me smile to see the pair. My happy peaceful feeling was suddenly shattered. I saw a flash of motion from the trees bordering our property line. What I believe was a sharp-shinned hawk, talons foremost, grabbed one of the doves in an explosion of feathers and was then gone from sight. I was shocked and saddened until I realized the hawk had to eat too.

At the end of this article you will find a list of the species sighted from or near the house. Feel free to pass along your sightings. Shoot me an email at with a subject line reading “Wildlife Sightings.”

Goldfinches gather

Life List:

Mourning DoveBlack-Capped ChickadeeAmerican Goldfinch
Red-Tailed HawkTufted TitmouseDark-Eyed Junco
Downy WoodpeckerRed-Breasted NuthatchSong Sparrow
Hairy WoodpeckerEastern BluebirdBrown-Headed Cowbird
Pileated WoodpeckerEuropean StarlingNorthern Cardinal
Northern FlickerEvening GrosbeakRuby-Throated Hummingbird
Blue JayHouse Finch