I simply bought again from Alaska. After a month of exploring America’s largest state, I really feel certified to make just a few comparisons to Maine wildlife.
First, I like strolling within the Maine woods higher, as a result of there may be nothing right here that wishes to eat me. Alaskan bears appeared confused by the concept I’m on the prime of the meals chain — an argument I hoped to not have with them. Nothing hones your vigilance and powers of remark like mountaineering in grizzly-rich Denali Nationwide Park.
Second, Alaskan mosquitoes are wimps. Theirs are a bit of greater, however ours are extra aggressive and far sneakier.
Third, Maine has much more birds. For example, on a very good day within the woods, I can discover as much as 20 species of warblers in Maine. Over there, nearly each warbler was orange-crowned, yellow-rumped, Wilson’s, yellow or blackpoll.
Ditto for sparrows. Maine has as much as 16 sparrow species. In Alaska, Savannah and fox sparrows had been omnipresent. Lincoln’s and American tree sparrows had been frequent. And that was about it.
Likewise, Maine has extra flycatchers, swallows, thrushes, woodpeckers and hawks. They’ve extra geese, shorebirds and the uber-cute Lapland longspurs.
Alaska has extra seabirds, together with two species of puffin not present in Maine. I began the journey having seen solely Atlantic puffins in my life. Now I’ve admired tons of of horned and tufted puffins, plus a lot of their family, the murrelets and auklets that proliferate within the Bering Sea.
Fourth, I can cease complaining about Maine’s early dawn in June. Whereas I used to be in Nome, the solar set at 1:15 a.m., and rose once more minutes later. It by no means bought darkish, which meant that the birds had been singing at 2 a.m.
Fifth, Maine is method noisier. Not solely do we now have extra songbirds, however all of them refrain collectively at daybreak. It’s a cacophony, like an orchestra tuning up. I dunno, perhaps Alaska birds would even have a daybreak refrain if they’d a daybreak. As an alternative, they appeared to sleep late.
Maine birds sing strongly simply earlier than breakfast. Alaska birds appeared to sing strongest simply earlier than lunch. Go determine.
Sixth, birds don’t care about coloration. Aside from people, most animals don’t care. Some brown bears are black, some black bears are brown, and some bears of each species have a tendency towards blonde. To discover a grizzly, all I needed to do was search for an enormous, lumbering haystack, ideally within the far distance.
Shade variations amongst birds had been most exceptional. Maine’s fox sparrows are reddish. Alaskan fox sparrows are darkish chocolate brown. They’re grayish in different components of the nation. Fox sparrows don’t care.
Maine’s dark-eyed juncos are grey on prime. Alaska’s are related. In Oregon, not that distant, they’re brown. There are 16 coloration variations in North America. Wherever they overlap, they interbreed. Juncos don’t care.
Maine’s yellow-rumped warblers have white throats. From Montana to Seattle, yellow-rumped warblers have yellow throats. Alaska’s are similar to ours. Wherever the races overlap, they interbreed. Yellow-rumps don’t care.
Vocal variations had been significantly amusing. Many shared species sounded the identical in Alaska as they do in Maine, however the fox sparrows and Wilson’s warblers sounded totally different. The variation amongst yellow warblers was utterly wacko. Within the Midwest, they will sound like chestnut-sided warblers. In Alaska, a number of gave the impression of American redstarts.
Regional variations are regular. If a Dallas cattleman and a Jonesport lobsterman bought right into a dialog, I think they would wish a translator.
Right here’s the most effective half in regards to the expertise: I felt like a novice once more. Secretly, I envy all these people who find themselves simply studying their birds. There may be a lot new and thrilling to find. In Alaska, I used to be compelled to concentrate. My preliminary identifications had been typically unsuitable, a lot to my delight.
There was no scarcity of birding journey for this Alaska rookie. For example, the bristle-thighed curlew is a bizarre fowl that nests in western Alaska however migrates to Hawaii. There’s a spot alongside a wilderness-road-to-nowhere 72 miles from Nome the place they’re identified to nest.
Each tour firm in America goes there. The curlews are exhausting to search out, often requiring a muddy march up a desolate hill. Besides throughout my go to, one met us within the parking zone. Depraved fortunate.
I’m now again in Maine, and again within the woods. I’ll by no means take our birds with no consideration once more. I don’t know anywhere within the nation that has extra songbirds crooning each morning. It’s good to be house.