Category Archives: Wildlife Watch

July 2017 – Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman

Eastern Cottontail by Marian Harman

Most of us enjoy seeing cottontail rabbit families in our yards (unless they are nibbling on our lettuce, of course). They’re definitely cute. The bunnies we see in our yard are almost certainly the hybrid Eastern Cottontail. The “real” New England Cottontail has become threatened here due to loss of habitat. It is very difficult to distinguish New England cottontails from Eastern cottontails. The native New Englanders are a bit smaller, and have ears trimmed with fine black fur. They lack the white forehead spots common on Eastern Cottontails.

The historic range of the New England Cottontail has always been small; southern Maine and New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and south to Rhode Island. These rabbits depend on small early succession forest patches within a larger habitat of forest and shrub wetlands. They eat the shrubby undergrowth that abounds in young forests. It is thought that historically they thrived in habitats along waterways, disturbed by hurricanes or fires. But due to development, forest fire suppression, and the introduction of alien invasive shrubs such as autumn olive, barberry and honeysuckle, New England Cottontails have lost 80 % of their former habitat. They are listed as threatened in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, endangered in New Hampshire and Maine, and extirpated from Vermont.

A recent article by nature writer Ted Williams entitled “Recovery: Second Chance for Yankee Cottontails” appeared June 7, 2017 in a Nature Conservancy blog called Cool Green Science. Williams states that the Eastern Cottontail is a hybrid mixture of cottontail breeds. It was introduced repeatedly from the late 1800’s through 1970 by hunting clubs and fish and wildlife services, and is so hearty that it has outcompeted our native cottontail. New England Cottontails are dependent on early successional forest, which we have pretty much run out of in New England. Eastern Cottontails, however, do well in all habitats, especially suburban yards and edges.

The article discusses a new public-private partnership, called the New England Cottontail Initiative, that is undertaking young-forest restoration. Local zoos are breeding the natives for release. The first releases took place in a 144-acre Nature Conservancy preserve in Dover Plains, New York. Here small patch clear-cuts are growing back into thicket. New England cottontails have recently been found on the Nature Conservancy land in Lyme, Ct., and management is starting there to provide the early forest patches these rabbits need. And even closer to home, captive-bred New England Cottontails bred at the Roger Williams Zoo in Rhode Island, are being released at the Bellamy River Wildlife Management Area in Dover, New Hampshire.

Williams states, “imperiled species need to be saved not because they are cute, not because they are beautiful, not because they are useful, not because they are anything. Only because they are.”

Next time you see a cottontail in Westford, check it out with binoculars. Some day, you might be lucky enough to see one of those New Hampshire bunnies, a native New England Cottontail.


Late June Reports:

Miller School second graders, Vineyard Rd. Reports from May 18-June 16: Nineteen goldfinch, eight house finch, seven cardinals, five house sparrows, four crows, four song sparrows, three black-capped chickadees, one nuthatch, one robin. This represents total birds observed during nine observation days. There were seven cloudy days, one rainy day, one sunny day. [This is a new project for Miller School second graders. Feeders, seed, binoculars and all materials were provided by the Westford Conservation Trust. We welcome these new birders! MH]

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. June 20, northern catalpa tree in back woods is covered with bright white blossoms. Heard a great-crested flycatcher. New batch of young downies on deck, begging parent for suet. After sunset, one bat flying over lawn. June 21, one hairy woodpecker on suet. At Howard Rd. wetland, one painted turtle poking around edge. June 22, at Buckingham Drive, wooden bridge over Beaver Brook. Cottontail bobbing away as fast as it could go. Heard red-winged blackbird, grackles, robin, blue jay, common yellowthroat, great-crested flycatcher, many white yarrow and evening primrose blooming. June 23, at power lines on Beaver Brook Rd., lots of daisies, white yarrow and Deptford pinks. On Forge Pond, pair of swans with at least three youngsters. In my busy birdbath on front step, four house finches enjoying water at same time, drinking and bathing. June 26, a family of blue jays around. Heard two white-breasted nuthatches. Great to have more babies around again. June 28, At Howard Rd. wetland, saw a young female wood duck in water, eastern phoebe, common yellowthroat, red-wined blackbird, catbird and tree swallow. Bullfrogs calling, various sizes of painted turtles, heads popping up in different paces. At bridge on Beaver Brook Rd. heard warbling vireo and saw swan parents with their two brown and white youngsters. Under power lines on Parkhurst, pine warbler, chipping sparrow, crow, robin, song sparrow, towhee, flicker and catbird. Yellow cinquefoil blooming now. Three red-tailed hawks circling over back woods. June 29, hummers on sugar water feeder. June 30, young downies on deck for suet. Waiting for a parent, they finally gave up and slowly began to try to figure out how to get suet. Little chipping sparrow happily picked up tiny pieces that fell onto deck, and off he went.

Kate Phaneuf, Drawbridge Rd. June 28, at the old beaver pond behind my house, spotted a couple blackbirds flying above the reeds. Two small brownish birds diving and pestering a hawk soaring above. Spent time removing oriental bittersweet from my yard. One tree had thick coils of the vine choking it. I removed it and the tree, which looked close to death, is now thriving.

July Reports:

Nancy Eberiel, Depot St. July 2, a red-tailed hawk took a bird from a shrub near the bird feeder.

Marian/Bill Harman, Chamberlain Rd. July 2, the three Carolina wren babies fledged from their nest on our porch at 9 a.m. Two of them followed their parents right through the hole in the screen, but one got confused. We went inside, and soon the parents had talked the third one through the screen too. July 22, one of the parent wrens came onto the screened porch and checked out the old nesting site.

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. July 2, at 2:45 p.m., my cat had been looking out the window downstairs and then suddenly ran upstairs and out to porch to look out that window. I followed her to see the scary thing that sent her out there and saw that there was a coyote trotting along at the edge of the back lawn very near our building, alert for anything he could pounce on. Long row of sumac along back woods covered with blossoms now. Daisy fleabane and fragrant milkweed blooming beside lawn. July 6, at Howard Rd. wetland, and eastern kingbird landed nearby, waiting for an insect. A noisy female wood duck flew to far side of water. close by the water, a swamp honeysuckle covered with fragrant sticky white flowers. July 7, small cooper’s hawk scattered all the birds. July 11, hairy woodpecker feeding suet to a puffed out youngster, being watched by a little downy.

Ginger Dries, Sherwood Dr. July report, the wrens are nesting again in one of the birdhouses, female turkey here almost every day, lots of bunnies. All the regulars are at the feeder, jays, finches, chickadees, three pairs of cardinals, mourning doves, titmice and woodpeckers of all kinds. The chickadees wait right on the feeder while I fill it, not a hand length away. The hummingbirds are still here but not as frequently as before.

Diane Duane, Howard Rd.  found a six-spotted tiger beetle, beneficial to gardens. Also a nest full of small gypsy moth caterpillars. July 19, saw first monarch butterfly.

Donna Cecere, Calista Terrace. July 9, pair of lovely birds building a nest in one of my birdhouses with sticks. Very tiny brown birds with very loud song, probably house wrens.

Alan Emmet, Concord Rd. July 9, screech and barred owls heard at night–Wonderful sounds!

Kate Hollister, Vine Brook Rd. July 18, hundreds of box elder bug nymphs crawling around near a maple tree for about a week. Watched an osprey dive for fish at Keyes Pond. A scrawny grey fox crossed Vine Brook Rd. Bullfrogs are croaking at Kennedy Pond. House wrens are using one of our birdhouses. Chipmunks and red squirrels are tearing the fiber backing from our grill cover for their nest. Finally saw a hummingbird at our feeder.

Marilyn Day, Graniteville Rd. July 19, noticed a car parked on Cold Spring Rd. waiting at the intersection with Graniteville Rd. at 8:20 p.m. Then across the road out stepped a doe followed by three youngsters. They came across and went under our old apple trees

Kate Phaneuf, Drawbridge Rd. July 20, pretty swallowtail butterfly flitting around forsythia at the back of the house. Great blue heron at the beaver pond. A few blue dragonflies and a few red ones at the pond. Four large crows squabbling over a dead chipmunk by the side of the road. blueberries starting to ripen, both high and low-bush. Flowers in bloom: spotted wintergreen, yellow oxalis, fleabane, clover. July 23, goldfinches picking some of the cotton fluff from my nesting materials ball. Blue dragonflies like the rhododendrons at the front of the house. An occasional roaming turkey or two seen crossing Palace Rd. Catbirds seen at pond and yard. Fruiting bodies of all kinds of fungi: Two dark stinky ones in the woods, many little rounded orange ones, weird-shaped ones, etc.

Marilyn Day, Graniteville Rd. July 26, steeplebush is now in bloom.

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. July report: robins, house finches, goldfinches, tufted titmouse, chickadee, nuthatch, several blue jays, grackles, turkeys. Two pairs of cardinals. A cardinal nest is in our forsythia bush, baby seen with parents feeding it. One baby fledged, one egg left, which disappeared by next day. Red-bellied woodpecker pair, downy woodpecker pair, rose-breasted grosbeaks here often, male female and juvenile. Many ruby-throated hummingbirds. mostly females. I have to refill the hummingbird feeder every two days. Many small birds having fun in the bird bath. Turkeys, four gray squirrels and chipmunks also drink from it. Many bunnies eating my flowers, red squirrel quarreling with gray squirrels. The chipmunks like to eat the roots of the plants on the deck.

            Marian Harman is a member of the Westford Conservation Trust, a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to the protection of Westford’s open spaces and trails. The Trust welcomes new members and volunteers. Check out the Trust’s website at westfordconservationtrust.org or visit us on Facebook.

June 2017 – Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman

Joe-Pye Weed and Goldenrod by Marian Harman

While working in your yard this summer, you might want to identify the plants and determine if they are native or non-native species. Many non-native invasive plants are outcompeting our native plants with disastrous consequences for our native birds. Non-native honeysuckles are particularly problematic. National Wildlife Federation encourages us to remove them.

Fruit eating birds such as cardinals, catbirds and robins love their tasty red fruits, and spread their seeds far and wide. But these birds are generalists and can eat a wide variety of fruits. The result is that Asian honeysuckle covers huge swaths of land, smothering out our native plants. Honeysuckle berries are not very nutritious, and worse, the plant itself hosts few beneficial insects. Without beneficial insects, birds have much less to feed growing nestlings. Warblers and chickadees, for instance rely on hundreds of caterpillars per day to feed themselves and their young.

Douglas Tallamy, Professor of Entomology at the University of Delaware, has found that the number and diversity of plant-eating insects drops dramatically when exotic plants invade. Caterpillars comprise 90 percent of warbler and chickadee diets during the breeding season. Tallamy states, “We are so used to hearing disastrous environmental news, and it often seems there is little that one person can do. But I’ve been going all over the country saying that you can do something. You can change the plants in your yard.”

If you set yourself to creating a bird and bee friendly yard, they will thank you with hours of entertainment. Your goal should be to provide as many native flowering trees, plants and shrubs as possible, and a source of water. The National Audubon Society has provided a complete list of native bird-friendly plants. Go to www.audubon.org, search the website for the Native Plant Database, and enter your zip code. You can then navigate the database to look for trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials that are native to our area. The site indicates which birds especially appreciate each plant. For instance, top trees listed are oaks, especially white oak, alternate-leaved dogwood, American basswood, American Beach, American hazelnut, hornbeam, larch, American Mountain ash, American plum, and serviceberry. Top shrubs listed are gray dogwood, witch hazel, beaked hazelnut, black chokeberry, black raspberry, and American pokeweed. Top herbaceous plants listed are goldenrods, black-eyed Susan, bluebell of Scotland, butterfly milkweed and all milkweeds, winterberry, yarrow, Canadian lily, Joe-pye weed and cardinal flower.

For bees, wildflowers provide bees with an excellent source of pollen and nectar. Leave a small brush pile and areas with dry reeds or grasses or deadwood. A muddy area will provide nesting material for bees. Bees love blue, purple and yellow flowers especially with flat or shallow single-petal blossoms such as daisies, asters, and Queen Anne’s lace. Another advantage of gardening with natives is that they are already adapted to our soil conditions and weather and will take very little care.

Many thanks to all flora and fauna reporters for the month of June. Please send reports by July 26 for inclusion in next month’s column. You can write me at 10 Chamberlain Rd., call me at 692-3907, or e-mail me at mariancharman@verizon.net.


Late May Reports:

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. May 24, little downy getting irritated with big hairy taking too long on suet. Great blue heron landed out front. May 27, four graceful turkey vultures soaring over woods. Tree swallow darting about overhead. May 28, robin enjoying bird bath on front step. House wren often calling in nearby woods. One bunny carefully venturing out onto back lawn. May 30, on front walk, a still-speckled fledgling robin hurrying after a parent. A few grackles trying to maneuver on feeder.

Barbara Theriault, Tadmuck Lane. May report: cowbirds, turkeys, crows, robins, blue jays, red-bellied woodpeckers, goldfinches, titmice, rose-breasted grosbeak, grackles, downy woodpeckers, chickadees, house finches, a robin’s nest with three eggs under our deck, on the side rail of a ladder, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits.

Kate Phaneuf, Drawbridge Rd. May 31, put up a “nesting ball”, which has been quite a hit. It is a softball-sized twig ball with natural cottony materials affixed. Its made by Krafts by Kevin, and packaged by a young man with autism: info@kraftsbykevin.com. Today, spotted a neighborhood turkey hen out with her poults, eight or nine little brown puff-balls.

Kate Hollister, Vine Brook Rd.  mother mallard leading about ten duckling across our lawn at dusk, heading back to nearby wetland. Saw a red fox and kit checking us out from a ridge near Ideal Concrete. Lots of chipmunks, red and gray squirrels.

 

June Reports:

Debbie Prato, Hayrick Lane. June 1, Canada geese, mallards, black ducks. June 4, flicker, tree swallows. June 7, woodchuck. June 14, snapping turtle crawling across back yard, followed closely by annoyed turkey. June 16, female turkey with nine poults. June 20, mockingbird. June 21, three skunks. June 23, adult raccoon with two babies. June 24, deer. June 25, kingbird.

Dot Mooney, at Howard Rd. wetland, June 1, titmouse, common yellowthroat, red-winged blackbirds, red-bellied woodpecker, song sparrow, chickadee, tree swallow, a few bull frogs. Blooming are, cinquefoil, blue toadflax, peppergrass, bittersweet nightshade. Yellow pond lily and arrowhead growing. Concord Rd., June 1, flicker, cowbird, goldfinch, blue-winged warbler, robin, titmouse, house sparrow, oriole, cardinal, common yellowthroat and red-winged blackbird. June 2, Monadnock Dr. Sat on front step early afternoon, heard or saw red-eyed vireo, four turkeys, three grackles, house wren, chipping sparrow, flicker, house sparrow, robin, two goldfinches, four doves, three house finches, one red-tailed hawk, young robin still chasing parent around. June 6, at my feeder out front, a great blue heron was around and suddenly hurried off, chasing a chipmunk! This heron has been a frequent visitor lately, probably feeding young in the nearby rookery. Suet holder a very popular place, often visited by downies, hairies and red-bellied woodpeckers. Bird bath on front step also very popular. June 10, delighted to hear a warbling vireo in back woods–very distinctive song. June 11, mix of cowbirds and grackles around. Multiflora rose blooming along edge of back woods, poking out through the tall sumacs. Handsome male oriole around. June 12, Dave Mahoney said he saw an indigo bunting under power lines on June 1. June 14, finally a hummer on sugar water feeder. At Howard Rd. wetland, noticed two dug-up turtle nests and the remains of a few eggshells. One bull frog. Arrow wood shrub in bloom. Around me were red-winged blackbird, crow, cardinal, catbird, grackle, chickadee, blue-winged warbler, robin, chipping sparrow, dove, two tree swallows, a song sparrow. At Parkhurst Dr. power lines, the timothy hay looks the way our horses loved it. White-topped English plantain, red clover, white yarrow appearing. Birds heard there were house wren, prairie warbler, indigo bunting, common yellowthroat, blue jay, goldfinch, chestnut-sided warbler, and a very entertaining catbird. Later in the day, lovely male rose-breasted grosbeak on the feeder. June 15, cute little chipping sparrow visited bird bath on deck. At Beaver Brook Rd., daisies, yellow hawkweed and bright yellow birdsfoot trefoil blooming. June 19, an adult garter snake slowly, carefully slipped across brick walkway, over the bark mulch and around shrubs, then into grass, which he was checking out very carefully. Fun to watch this interesting, harmless snake going to some place important only to him. On Parkhurst Rd., “Standing on the power lines in the middle of a little field of daisies and tall grasses, I am once again reminded that daisies mean summer to me.”

Mark O’Lalor, Concord Rd. June 4, nesting bluebirds in his box. Active oriole nest on Day conservation land. Nesting killdeer at Gould Rd.

Alan Emmet, Concord Rd. June 4, our pink ladies slippers don’t have flowers this year.

Herb Fenelon, Randolph Circle. June 6, the fourth and fifth grade Cub Scouts from Pack 96 built and erected bluebird nest boxes at each of Westford’s three elementary schools, Abbot, Crisafulli and Day. The results have been wonderfully successful. At last check we had nesting tree swallows and wrens at Abbot, nesting tree swallows and bluebirds at Crisafulli,  and nesting tree swallows at Day. [Herb sent some great photos of these birds at the nesting boxes-MH]

Marian/Bill Harman, Chamberlain Rd. June 7, lovely sunny day,, 65 degrees. Robin, scarlet tanager, Carolina wren singing, song sparrow, house sparrow feeding four young. At feeder: downy, hairy woodpecker, two blue jays, one a nearly-adult begging for food. Gray squirrel has outwitted yet another attempt to make the hanging tube feeder inaccessible and is eating it all. Titmouse, grey catbird, grackles, flicker heard. White-breasted nuthatch, female and two male cardinals, goldfinches, male hummingbird at feeder, cowbirds. Two grackles pulling grubs and insects from the lawn, common yellowthroat singing. June 9, blue-headed vireo and yellow warbler singing. June 10, a walk on the Frances Hill Wildlife Sanctuary: 74 degrees and low humidity, black flies. brown looper type caterpillar which looks just like a twig, (Common Lythrogis moth?), chickadees, white-breasted nuthatch, song sparrow, red-eyed vireo, downy woodpecker, robin carrying worm, yellow warbler, chipping sparrow, great-crested flycatcher, many titmice babies squeaking around their parents, scarlet tanager, blue jay, cowbirds,  grey squirrel, chipmunk, deer prints, cinnamon fern with its fertile fronds, chickweed in bloom, Canada mayflower blooming, buttercups blooming, twisted stalk, ragged robin blooming, viburnum blooming, jack-in-the pulpits. June 15, cooper’s hawk came through fast, birds scattered and some hit screens. Pair of house finches investigating the hanging geranium on porch. I took it down as I know once they build there, I can’t water the plant. June 21, a pair of Carolina wrens are nesting on our porch behind the porch light and inside the screens! They go in and out through a hole in the screen–very clever and brave. Pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks at feeder. Two tom turkeys here a lot–very friendly with each other.

 

Doug Pederson, Woodland Dr. June 8, photographed a tree swallow playing with a feather, tossing it up and then chasing it. Watched a red-winged blackbird chasing a crow and then bothering a heron.

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. June 16, a nesting bluebird male who lost his mate found a new female four days later. Hummers are using up my sugar water very quickly. I will put up a second one. A friend on Kirsi circle saw a pileated woodpecker poking holes in a buddha in their back yard. Another friend found a baby bird out of its nest. They made a nest of sorts and put it back out. The next day it was gone. rose-breasted grosbeak pair almost daily, grackles, red-winged blackbird pair, several pairs of blue jays, titmouse, nuthatch, chickadee, goldfinch, pair of cardinals, hawk circling overhead, downy pair, red-bellied woodpecker, pileated woodpecker, several rabbits in yard, whitish turkey still here, six squirrels chasing each other, chipmunks, several honey bees in rhododendron, lots of mosquitos and ant hole. On Beaver Dam Rd., friends returned from a two-month trip to find a robin nest in one of the little lights in front of the house, next to the front door. They were very aggressive, dive-bombing the homeowners. They also went to the car next to the rear view side window, pecked at it and left some droppings on the door. This also happened to the appliance man’s truck. In the next, I saw well-developed young robin flapping his wings. He left within a few days. They also pecked at mirror on my car and left droppings [Male robins are notoriously territorial. They often “attack” their own reflection in windows or car mirrors, thinking it is a male robin intruder into their territory. The only thing you can do is cover the window or mirror until nesting is completed. This is a kindness to the bird because they waste much energy and time attacking these “intruders”-MH]

Kate Phaneuf, Drawbridge Rd. June 14, I have blue columbine, and bee balm plants blooming. The deep pink flowers on my weigela bushes are attracting bumblebees and other bees, fly honeysuckle blooming by the beaver pond attracts bumblebees. Sheep laurel also in full bloom. Saw blackbirds, bracken and sensitive fern and cinnamon fern on the trail.

Larry Guertin, June 14, large mama snapping turtle laid eggs in our bark mulch.

Barbara Theriault, Tadmuck Lane. June 17, a small fox ran through our back yard. June 18, blue heron at Grassy Pond.

Gute Fernandes, Vineyard Rd., June 18, many turtles killed on Russell’s Way where turtle excluders are supposed to keep them off the road.

Kate Hollister, at Grassy Pond. June 18, it was nice to see water in the pond again and that the water lilies survived. We saw hundreds of baby toads hopping across the trail, going away from the pond. Heard a large swam of bees in the rotting downed tree near the water. At Powers Rd., saw a snapping turtle crossing the road, and evidence of turtle nesting near Kennedy Pond.

Donna Cecere, Calista Terrace. June 18, one resident groundhog, daily turkey visitor to bird feeder, hornets and bees drinking from bird bath, as well as goldfinches, mourning doves, sparrows. A cooper’s hawk came swiftly flying into yard and swooped up a chipmunk in its claws and took off with it. Two birdhouses have nests. Many robins this spring, blue jays, woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches, tufted titmice, cowbirds, hummingbirds, sparrows, rose-breasted grosbeaks, cardinals, red-winged blackbird, mourning doves (I love their coos in the evening).

Nancy Eberiel, Depot St. June Report:  a turkey hen with two chicks continues to patrol the yard. At the feeder, a grosbeak, two cowbirds, jays, grackles, nuthatch, cardinals, sparrows, house finches, goldfinches, chickadees, doves and cowbirds, a rabbit family and deer. I also see chimney swifts and barn swallows overhead. The swifts nest in the Roudenbush tower. June 26, ravens around.

Marilyn Day, Graniteville Rd. June 20, a foot-long snapping turtle in the driveway [Roger took a great photo-MH].

Ginger Dries, Sherwood Dr. June report: turkey pair are here occasionally. The wrens and the robins nested in the same tree. Robins dive-bombed wrens at first, but they learned to get along together, and both nests of babies fledged on the same day–fun to watch. Two or three baby bunnies and three adult rabbits in yard, along with some groundhogs. So many blackbirds of all types are eating everything.

 

May 2017 – Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman

If you are trying to tread lightly on the earth, and reduce your carbon footprint, one of the most effective steps you can take is to eliminate palm oil from your life. Palm oil is cheap to produce and is shelf-stable, so is the oil of choice for many companies. But, palm oil production has resulted in the clearing of vast swaths of tropical forests. The Union of Concerned Scientists has been trying to get the word out that the clearing of tropical forests and the establishment of monoculture palm oil plantations destroys critical habitat for many endangered animals and birds. To produce palm oil for our processed foods and body care products, huge areas of forest are

Palm Warbler by Doug Pederson

cut down and the peat land swamps are drained. UCS states, “Destruction of these ecosystems devastates endangered species habitats and contributes to climate change by releasing global warming emissions into the atmosphere….Tropical deforestation…accounts for about ten percent of annual carbon dioxide emissions”. Not only is palm oil production bad for our climate and animal habitat, palm oil is bad for us. It is mostly saturated fat, a food we should avoid for heart health.

Indonesia and Malaysia produce about 85% of the world’s palm oil, which comprises about a third of all vegetable oil produced globally. Orangutans, tigers, rhinoceros, elephants and tropical birds native to these countries face extinction as their habit disappears in cleared areas. Sometimes the forests are seized from indigenous people and forced labor causes many human rights abuses. Widespread burning of tropical forests causes an unhealthy haze that is spreading throughout Southeast Asia, resulting in unhealthy impacts to the residents.

The public has begun to demand deforestation-free and peatland-free palm oil. Some companies have made commitments, at least on paper, to try to source their palm oil more responsibly. UCS wrote their first report on this problem in 2014. In 2015, they produced a scorecard, which rated forty companies on their commitment to responsibly sourcing their palm oil. As a result, some companies have already made the transition, and some others have begun to respond to consumer pressure, and have made commitments to transition to responsibly sourced palm oil by 2021.

The UCS scorecard shows that in the packaged food industry, Nestle, Dannon, Kellogg’s, ConAgra (Act 11 Popcorn, Marie Callender’s), Unilever (Ben and Jerry’s, Popsicle, Slimfast), Pepsico, and General Mills have made a strong commitment to responsibly source their palm oil. Kraft has made no commitment. In the Personal care industry, Colgate, Henkel (Dial, Right Guard), P&G, L’Oreal, and Reckitt Benckiser (Veet, Clearasil) have made a strong commitment, while Estee Lauder, Avon and Clorox, which makes Burt’s Bees, have made little or no commitment. In fast food companies, only Dunkin Donuts (including Baskin-Robbins) has made a strong commitment to protection. Among grocery store brands, only Safeway Organic, Safeway Select, and Safeway Care have made a strong commitment.

You can see the complete scorecard at www.ucsusa.com. I am going to try to read ingredients and avoid palm oil altogether, especially in processed food, since I don’t need the saturated fat. And I can be an informed consumer and only buy products produced by companies that have made a commitment to protect the environment. Consumer pressure does work. I guess that means I will have to find a substitute for Burt’s Bees products.

Many thanks to all flora and fauna reporters for the month of May. Please send reports by June 26 for inclusion in next month’s column. You can write me at 10 Chamberlain Rd., call me at 692-3907, or e-mail me at MarianCHarman@verizon.net.


Late April Reports:

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. April 22, a bear paid a visit to my feeders overnight–no real damage, just made a mess. Two cute chipping sparrows on deck. April 23, under Parkhurst power lines: bright dandelions blooming, soft leaves of mullein emerging. Nearby, chickadees, blue jays, goldfinches, pine warbler, chipping sparrow, titmice, downy woodpecker, white-breasted nuthatch, two towhees. Near my door step, same birds as well as doves, phoebe, flicker, grackles, red-bellied woodpecker and one late junco. A turkey hen limping around on back lawn. April 28, Howard Rd. wetland water deeper now. A few turtles in high sunny spots, small muskrat swam quietly by, heard a Canada goose and first catbird this year. Watched several tree swallows dipping through the air low over the water, garlic mustard in bloom.

Debbie Prato, Hayrick Lane. April 30, two cottontail rabbits, Baltimore orioles, white-crowned sparrows, male rose-breasted grosbeak, catbirds.

Marian/Bill Harman, Chamberlain Rd. April 30, first oriole and first catbird, here–so early!

May Reports:

Ginger Dries, Sherwood Dr. May 1, the bear hit the feeders again, nothing since. May 5, first hummers. May 22, a lone deer on the hill. May 24, female turkey under feeders. Also, an American redstart in a shrub in the yard. We have had Baltimore orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, catbird nest in the rose bush, robin nest in the cherry, sparrows nesting in the rain spouts. The wren is singing everywhere. Two or three bunnies, lots of squirrels.

rose bush, robin nest in the cherry, house sparrows nesting in the rainspouts, three bunnies, lots of squirrels. May 24, American redstart in yard.

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. May 2, two male orioles in trees. May 3, one handsome male bluebird perched on railing, nesting nearby. Male rose-breasted grosbeak on suet, family of downies on deck, the three youngsters being fed bits of suet. May 4, at Howard Rd. wetland, heard a common yellowthroat, flicker, mallard and catbird making an amazing variety of calls. Also saw prairie warbler, towhee, robin, house wren, song sparrow and chestnut-sided warbler. May 5, cooper’s hawk swooped through front lawn area trying to catch a bird at feeder, had no luck. May 6, great blue heron landed on lawn along back woods, wandered around a bit. The nearby beaver pond has many heron nests. May 7, catbirds visiting suet feeder, two male rose-breasted grosbeaks on shelled sunflower together. May 12, a downy woodpecker on suet until he was nudged out by a hairy woodpecker. May 14, a male white-crowned sparrow under feeder. I don’t remember seeing one before–like a white-throated, without the white throat and with a bit of yellow over bill, probably on his way north. May 17, perky little house wren still calling all day. Broad-winged hawk circling over woods. May 19, baby robin at nest remained on edge a long time refusing to budge, until we went away. There was one unhatched blue egg in nest. May 20, under power lines on Parkhurst: catbird, flicker, house wren, prairie warbler, pine warbler, indigo bunting, blue-winged warbler, common yellowthroat. Heard a red-eyed vireo in back woods. May 22, chokeberry trees blooming out back and the large honeysuckle thicket by the woods is covered with blossoms. The great blue heron returned, walked along to my place and then turned around and flew off. May 23, out back I can hear the red-eyed vireo and a great- crested flycatcher. Early afternoon, the heron landed in the same place on the lawn, but this time three tom turkeys spotted him and promptly began to run across the grass toward him. He hurriedly took off. “It seemed to take a while but suddenly everything is green again and there are beautiful blossoms everywhere….no time is lovelier than May.”

Debbie Prato, Hayrick Lane. May 2, Canada geese, mallards, male ruby-throated hummingbird. May 11, tree swallows, mockingbird. May 15, garter snake, hummingbirds, cottontail rabbit, goldfinches, house finches, chickadees, tufted titmice. May 22, deer.

Marian/Bill Harman, Chamberlain Rd. May 2, whippoorwill heard across the street this evening-a first. May 4, yellow warbler, rose-breasted grosbeak and hummingbirds all here today. May 6, boy scout bird walk at

Emmet land: ovenbird, goldfinch, titmouse, chickadee, chipping sparrow, pine warbler heard, red-winged blackbirds, common yellowthroat, barred owl, robin, catbird, mallards, Canada geese, great blue heron, great egret (!), tree swallow, cardinal, blue jay, grackle, downy woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, green frogs and salamander eggs in the vernal pool, red squirrel, starflower, Canada mayflower, wood anemone, blueberry all blooming. May 17, great-crested flycatcher arrived. May 24, oriole singing, wood thrush singing, catbirds, scarlet tanager singing, rose-breasted grosbeak singing.

Bob Price, Stratton Hill Rd. May 3, hummingbirds arrived. May 4, pair of grosbeaks at feeder.

Tom Ennis, Almeria Dr. May 6, only one bee on my apple tree blooms….it seems there are hardly any honey bees around and few bumble bees…”Is there a more important insect to the human race than a honey bee?”

Lisa Groves, Main St. May 6, turkey nesting right next to our garage at the top of a retaining wall. She’s alert and hisses when we come near, and we assume she’s already got eggs there…she’s laying in a patch of goldenrod/blue flag iris/peony.

Nancy Bissell, North Main St. May 7. A dead turkey on the hill, and I was shocked to see vultures at it.

Emily Teller, Texas Rd. May 10, phoebes are back. I love their mossy nests.

Mau Fernandes, at Miller School. May 18, we have started the bird feeder program from the Westford Conservation Trust. Today we saw cardinal, goldfinch, house sparrow and white-breasted nuthatch [Congratulations 2nd graders!-MH]

Len Palmer, Trust Bird Walk at Emmet Land. May 13, pine warbler, several ovenbirds, titmouse, chickadee, blue jay, robin, downy woodpecker, pileated woodpecker, several common yellowthroats, about four Baltimore orioles, pair of warbling vireos, red-winged blackbirds, cowbirds, grackles, Canada geese, spotted sandpiper, brown creeper, cardinal, goldfinches, starflower, wood anemone, marsh marigold, sarsaparilla all blooming.

Elana Schreiber, at Main St. May 21. I saw a bobcat crossing the street from the Tom Paul trail to Town Hall. It was wonderful to see. Also, gray fox crossed Graniteville Rd. into town vegetable garden area.

Cindy Franklin, Heywood Rd. May 23, black bear quite close to house, looked like a young adult. He had large yellow tags in both ears.

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. May report: two pairs of blue jays, one pair of cardinals, red-winged blackbirds male and female, grackles, goldfinch, house finch, chickadees, titmouse, rose-breasted grosbeak male, robins, downy woodpecker, hummingbirds showed up first week in May, hawk circling overhead, group of turkeys, two males courting a few females, plus the partially white turkey, several rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks (less than last year), skunk cabbage by the brook.

Kirsten Collins, Hildreth St. May 24, a baby owl was rescued from the middle of Hildreth St. Two people picked it up and put it in the woods.

March 2017 – Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman

To eat a healthy diet, you need to eat organic. That is the message from the Cornucopia Institute (www://cornucopia.org). But the consumer needs to be careful, because not everything labeled “organic” is truly healthy or humane. The Cornucopia Institute is a non-profit, based in Wisconsin, which does research and investigation into agricultural and food issues. It provides information to family farmers and consumers. The website states, “We support economic justice for the family-scale farming community-partnered with consumers-backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.”

Cornucopia provides the consumer with ratings of organic foods, ranging from dairy products and eggs, to protein bars and soy-based foods. I try to eat organic whenever possible, but I was surprised when I found that some of the organic products I buy are not recommended by Cornucopia.

Organic dairy products are given scores ranging from 0 to 5. Products receiving a 5-star “Outstanding” (or “5-Cow” rating) are local and organic. The only nearby local dairy on the list that has a 5-star rating, is New England Organic Creamery, the Shaw family farm in Dracut. Good for Warren Shaw! Four-cow ratings, “Excellent,” are earned by Organic Valley of Wisconsin and Stonyfield Farm, Vermont. These are widely available. BJ’s, Costco, and Wal-Mart store brands earned only a one-star rating (“Unknown” whether organic or humane). Zero-star ratings (“Ethically deficient”) were earned by Trader Joe’s, Hannaford’s Nature’s Place, Wild Harvest, Applegate Farms, Vermont Organics and Horizen .

Looking at the organic egg ratings, most of the 5-star and 4-star ratings (“5-egg and 4-egg” rating) “Truly pastured or Enhanced Outdoor Access”, are garnered by small local farms. None of these are in our immediate area. One farm with a three-star rating, “Very Good, complying with minimum USDA organic standards”, was Pete and Gerry’s of New Hampshire. Pete and Gerry’s eggs are available at Hannaford Market and elsewhere. Organic Valley has a 2-star rating “Fair, unknown or from confinement farmed hens”. Country Hen of Hubbardston, MA, Costco and Wal-mart eggs also have a 2-star rating. Surprisingly, 365 Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s organic eggs have only a one-star rating. And Wegman’s, Horizen and others garner a zero-star rating.

Cornucopia also rates soy-based foods such at veggie burgers, nuggets and protein bars. They put cautions on many of the foods rated, because the soy protein in them is extracted with hexane, which is a poisonous solvent. Some common brands that are not recommended because of hexane are Boca, Gardenburger, Morningstar Farms, and Trader Joe’s, and some of the Whole Foods products. I was shocked at this, because these are all products I have used.

Recommended safe soy meat alternatives are all Amy’s Kitchen products, Asherah’s Gourmet, Chez Marie, Field Roast, Helen’s Kitchen, Primm, Soy Deli, Tofu Shop, Tofurky and Wildwood products. The only ones of these that I have found locally are Amy’s Kitchen and Tofurky.

Safe protein bars are Alpsnack, Amazing Grass, Bear Fruit, Bumble bar, Garden of Life, Hammer, Larabar, Nutiva, Nature’s Path, Organic Food Bar, Potent Foods, Pure and Pure Bliss, Raw Revolution, Soy Joy, Vega, Wild Bar and Zen Organic Foods. I have found Nature’s Path, and Larabar    locally.

Shockingly, some of the most well-known and easily found energy bars, such as Balance Bar, Clif Bar, Luna Bar, Kind Plus, Odwalla, Power Bar, Pure Protein, Zone Perfect, Whole Foods 365, and others are all hexane-extracted.

Lately, I have been taking my Cornucopia list to the market when I shop.

Many thanks to all flora and fauna reporters for the month of March. Please send reports by April 26 for inclusion in next month’s article. You can call me at 692-3907, write me at 10 Chamberlain Rd., or e-mail me at mariancharman@verizon.net.

 


Late February Reports:

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. February 18, spectacular sunrise. Saw two deer standing quietly at the edge of the woods, they blended in perfectly. I would never have seen them if one had not flicked an ear. February 19, hairy woodpecker on suet lately. One starling on deck, cowbirds around for awhile. The blackbird flocks are arriving. Two deer in yard for seed. February 23, heard two white-breasted nuthatches having a lively conversation in front woods. February 24, loud drilling of a woodpecker in back woods–a spring sound. Blue jay calling, lots of small bird chatter. Female hairy woodpecker on suet, little male downy waiting, four noisy crows in woods, goldfinch singing cheerfully in the sumacs. Five doves in back yard, two turkey vultures soaring. February 25, two red-tailed hawks cruising around over back woods, many years I have seen red-tailed pairs under power lines on Parkhurst Drive, sometimes sitting on a huge nest.

Tom Ennis, Almeria Dr. February 24, first woodcocks heard…”doing their darnedest to impress a gal”.

Marian/Bill Harman, Chamberlain Rd. February 28, woodcock displaying in our pasture. 52 degrees out.

Doug Pederson, Woodland Dr. February 28, pair of house finches in the yard.

 

March Reports :

Phil Day, Graniteville Rd. March 1, peepers heard near Nashoba Ski Area tonight.

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. March 2, cardinal pair on deck, obviously fond of each other. A few juncos around. March 4, today winter pushed its way back in, stopping everything from moving ahead. March 5, lots of mixed blackbirds in yard. One dove on deck, not at all affected by the noisy and nervous blackbird flock. March 6, two doves on deck. In back, eight turkeys, three crows, four juncos, two blue jays. March 10, five crows flew over from back woods in a sudden heavy snowfall. March 12, four crows, seven juncos, two blue jays and a few blackbirds in and out, two turkey vultures around woods. Two chickadees enjoying suet. One ladybug on rug beside me. Where has this little one been? March 15, the large amount of snow we just received is March at its worse for me. Placed handful of diced walnuts on railing, tree sparrows and juncos eating seed, but a nuthatch found the delicious walnuts, soon joined by a chickadee. Growing mixed blackbird flocks make life difficult for the local birds looking for a meal. Gray squirrels are here more often and longer. March 18, walking by woods out front, I listened to a chickadee singing “fee bee” in his best springtime voice. Midafternoon, various birds eating seed–three blue jays, three titmice, two nuthatches, two juncos. Later there were twelve juncos and a dove. March 20, lovely sunny morning–so much cheerful bird song perhaps celebrating because they know winter is nearing the end of its time.

Ron Gemma, Concord Rd. March 3, six to seven robins flipping oak leaves in back yard. March 11, northern flicker at suet feeder. March 12, coyote “direct register” tracks from woods in back yard to feeders. March 13, river otter traveling along bank of a feeder brook to Vine Brook. March 14, nor’easter and bird bonanza! Four or five grackles feeding along edges of brook, four mallards in brook, red-winged blackbird, northern flicker, two downy woodpeckers, one hairy woodpecker one red-bellied woodpecker and two nuthatches at suet feeder. Four tufted titmice and four chickadees at seed feeder, two cardinals and four juncos feeding on deck.  March 23, pileated woodpecker feeding on a dead tree in my swamp.

Diane/Bill Duane, Howard Rd. March 6, two hooting barred owls close to Wright lane. March 12, pair of bluebirds at back yard suet feeder. March 24, great blue heron in back yard.

Doug Pederson, at Forge Pond. March 8, about forty ducks on the pond way out–seem to be mergansers. March 17, ring-necked ducks and mergansers on pond. March 18, 30-40 geese, common and hooded mergansers, ring-necked ducks. Also, a raccoon wandering about. At Beaverbrook Rd. bridge, lots of red-winged blackbirds, great blue heron, hooded mergansers and ring-necked ducks about, red-tailed hawk.

Marian/Bill Harman, Chamberlain Rd. March 12, at least fifty robins on a lawn on Lowell Rd. March 14, at least fifty mixed blackbirds at feeders.

March 24, four turkeys here.

Len Natoli, Flushing Pond Rd. March 13, on Flushing Pond, twelve hooded mergansers, two blue-winged teals, two wood ducks, mallards, Canada geese. Also, pair of bluebirds at our feeder, red-bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker, cardinals, nuthatches, house and gold finches, titmice, juncos, mourning doves, chickadees–a good day for bird watching!

Barbara Theriault, at Leland Rd. March 14, twenty-five turkeys on one side and five on the other. On Tadmuck Lane, March 21, a bear took down our bird feeders [Barbara sent photos of bear tracks–MH].

Gerry DiBello, Court Rd. March 17, two red-winged blackbirds every day this week. Grackles back as well, as many as thirty-four wild turkey at one time in our back yard.

Donna Cecere, Calista Terrace. March 22, sixteen robins, sixteen red-winged blackbirds, mourning doves, gray squirrels, juncos, chickadees, one very large turkey.

Debbie Prato, Hayrick Lane. March 23, skunk in yard. March 24, eight turkeys. March 25, Canada geese, mallards, white-throated sparrow, red fox, deer, red-winged blackbirds.

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. March 24, bear took down bird feeder on Dana Drive. March 25, juncos still here, red-winged blackbirds have arrived, goldfinches starting to change colors. A few titmice, nuthatches, chickadees, sparrows, pair of cardinals, four blue jays, red-bellied, downy pair and one hairy woodpecker, one crow and one grackle, several doves, purple and house finches, male and female, bluebirds reported by neighbors, heard a barred and great horned owl. Gray squirrels running around. Deer eating euonymous bush in front, several turkeys, mostly male. Coyotes heard at night.

Bob Price, Stratton Hill Rd. March 25, bluebirds are back at our feeder.

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February 2017 – Wildlife Watch by Marian Harman

Hill Orchard by Marian Harman

Farmland is disappearing in Massachusetts. We are losing agricultural lands and farming opportunities at an alarming rate. To try to stem the tide of farmland loss, the Mass Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) established the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) program in 1979. It was a first-in-the-nation model for many other states. The MDAR website states, “the primary purpose of the APR program is to preserve and protect agricultural land, including designated farmland soils, which are a finite natural resource, from being built upon for non-agricultural purposes or used for any activity detrimental to agriculture, and to maintain APR land values at a level that can be supported by the land’s agricultural uses and potential.”

The APR program works by paying farmers the difference between the full market value of their land and the agricultural value of the land. In that way, the landowner retains ownership of the land, but cannot sell the land for anything but agriculture. The program has worked well. It has protected 800 farms and 68,000 acres in Massachusetts.

Westford has followed the State trend. The 2006 Master Plan states, “From 1985 and 1999, Westford experienced the second greatest loss of agricultural land of any town in Massachusetts.” The recent 2006 Westford Reconnaissance Inventory (2006) completed through the Massachusetts Heritage Landscape Inventory Program cited the loss of active farming and the development of agricultural land as “one of Westford’s key planning issues.” In looking at our Open Space Plans, it is evident that since 1957 we have lost over 90% of our farmland. We have only three protected farms left, totaling 64 acres. These farms are protected by Agricultural Preservation Restrictions and conservation restrictions.

In 1999, the purchase for $525,000 by the Town of an APR on the Drew Parcel on Boston Rd. was completed. Here is what is written in the 1999 Town Report regarding the purchase: “This will assure the preservation of a critical part of the landscape important for maintaining the character of the Town which has been identified by the citizens of the Town as a high priority during the Master Plan update process.” The 2010 Open Space Plan states, “Westford residents place great value on retaining the town’s farming heritage in addition to protecting open space, and the town has successfully preserved several working farms and orchards through agricultural preservation restrictions and municipal purchase.”

Now, a citizens’ petition to be voted on at our March 25 Annual Town Meeting, asks that we give the Selectmen the authority to negotiate with a developer to build a large restaurant, parking lot and septic system on one of our protected agricultural parcels. Such a development would clearly violate the terms of the perpetual protection for that agricultural land. I urge you to attend Town Meeting at Abbot School on March 25 and vote “no” on Article 19. We must stay vigilant in our determination to protect Westford’s farmland. Its the only farmland we will ever have.

Many thanks to all flora and fauna reporters for the month of February. Please send reports by March 26 for inclusion in next month’s column. You can write me at 10 Chamberlain Rd., call me at 692-3907, or e-mail me at mariancharman@verizon.net.


Flora/Fauna Reports for February 2017

Late January Reports:

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. January 25. Just noticed a fawn coming in from the woods. January 26, thirty doves in yard. Two crows around a lot today. January 27, downies happy on their suet holder, titmice and chickadees eating sunflower, juncos in and out. Eventually a pair of house finches, then three blue jays, a house sparrow, a white-breast nuthatch and two tree sparrows. January 28, eastern sky hinting at coming sunrise. One bunny checking out something of interest in snow, then dashing into nearby shrub. A few doves eating seed on ground. Small flock of house finches on deck. Some of the males so brightly colored. Females very distinctive. January 29, one female cowbird, which seemed a bit early for those birds. Later, eight female cowbirds arrived, did not stay long. Early afternoon, hairy woodpecker arrived looking for suet.

February Reports:

Dot Mooney, Monadnock Dr. February 1, six blue jays in and out. A dove just hit glass on porch door, fell over railing and landed with his head literally buried in the soft snow, legs slightly moving. I brought out an empty basket out to place him in until he could clear his head. But, just as I reached for him, he saw me and suddenly burst out of the snow and flew away over the woods. Immediately there was a small coopers’s hawk in hot pursuit, chasing him far over the woods. This hawk was probably the reason he flew into the door, tying to escape…. One of them probably had a good day. February 5, hairy woodpecker on suet, downy waiting his turn. February 7, a tree sparrow on deck, looking for seed in the falling snow. Snow also brought twelve juncos. At 2 p.m., five titmice arrived, and a pair of cardinals bringing their bright color to the white background. One junco visiting a hanging feeder, which I don’t often see. February 8, birds are singing their spring songs, very cheerful tunes. February 14, barely dawn, sun touching treetops on a cold winter morning. Birds arrive early for seed, needing some quick energy to deal with the cold. Several fresh deer tracks leading to seed in yard. February 15, a flock of female cowbirds, and eventually the males, busy on deck. Now and then I see a red-tailed hawk cruising over the woods or power lines. “Watching bird activity around here helps me pass the long winter. Feeding them helps me think I’m doing some good–works for me!”

Bill Harman, Chamberlain Rd. February 6, three deer in the woods. They saw me but didn’t run away. “I told them not to worry”.  February 11, red-winged blackbirds arrived at our feeder.

Ginger Dries, Sherwood Drive. The birds were singing their spring songs while we all shoveled snow. February 8, it had been snowing and fifteen gray squirrels were on all the feeders. Also, red squirrels on feeders and drinking from the water. February 11, twenty-five or more juncos, and some sparrows and doves on ground. Two pairs of cardinals. February 24, three deer on the hill. One is dragging its right back leg–sad. Occasional red-bellied woodpecker and Carolina wren here along with the other woodpeckers. The chickadees are always waiting in the late afternoon for me to fill the feeders.

Doug Pederson, at Forge Pond. February 10, two pairs of hooded mergansers.

February 23, river otter seen at the beach on ice eating a fish, then would go back down to find some more [Doug sent some great photos-MH]. February 24, first red-winged blackbird seen today. Red-tailed hawk and otter back today.

Margaret Wheeler, Depot St. February 14, groups of turkeys visit yard. One group has three members, another has five. Four deer waded out of the snow-filled woods today and walked up the driveway. One was a doe we have seen for years who has an issue with her left foreleg. It slows her down when she walks but she is able to bound ahead of the others when she wants to. They stopped to look at me up on the deck.

Bob Price, Stratton Hill Rd. February 18, bluebirds at the feeder for the past three days.

Mau and Thuy Fernandes, Vineyard Rd. three deer in front of house. I am glad they have appeared again.

Carol Gumbart, at East Boston Camps. February 21, heard two red-winged blackbirds calling “conk-la-ree”.

Debbie Prato, Hayrick Lane. February 22, Canada geese, bluebirds, one red-winged blackbird, one grackle, red-bellied woodpeckers.

Rosemarie Koester, Providence Rd. February report: four blue jays, one pair of cardinals, purple and house finches, house sparrows, chipping sparrows, American tree sparrows, white-throated sparrows, doves, chickadees, tufted titmouse, white-breasted nuthatch, juncos, red-bellied, downy, and hairy woodpeckers. A hawk sits in the sun in the morning, close to the marsh and watches. Great horned owl heard late at night. First red-winged blackbird seen week of February 19. Neighbors report blue jays. Also have seen gray squirrels, one rabbit, a deer eating bush in front of house.

 

Marian Harman is a member of the Westford Conservation Trust, a non-profit conservation organization whose purpose is the preservation of Westford’s open spaces and trails. Check out the Trust’s website at westfordconservationtrust.org. The Trust welcomes new members and volunteers.