Dear Sun Spots: I’ve not heard the call of the whippoorwill for a few years. About dusk and night we looked forward to their calls. Do you know what has become of them? – M. B., Andover.

Answer:
Sun Spots spoke with Maine Audubon staff naturalist Judy Walker who says the whippoorwill’s numbers are declining, and they are a “species of concern.” Although there do not appear to be any statistics on the decrease, Walker says anecdotal calls received by Maine Audubon indicate the public has noticed a significant drop.

The whippoorwill tends to breed in the eastern part of the country, almost down to Georgia, Walker said. They like dry, open woodland. Walker thinks the decrease may be due to habitat loss as development takes over and also there are less bugs around due to pesticide spraying.

For those who don’t know this bird, the National Wildlife Federation describes the whippoorwill as robin-sized, leaf brown and a strictly nocturnal bird with a black throat. The male has broad white tips on his outer tail feathers, which are visible in flight. The female has an all-brown tail.

The whippoorwill likes dry, open woodlands and canyons, and in the East prefers open hardwood or mixed woodlands of pine, oak and beech. In the Southwest, it frequents densely wooded slopes of oak and pine in canyons and mountains. It’s rarely seen because it sleeps by day on the forest floor and its coloring matches dead leaves. At night, its eyes reflect ruby red in car headlights. Like other night-flying birds, whippoorwills were once suspected of witchery. They fly around livestock at dusk to feed on insects swarming over the animals. It was once believed they sucked milk from goats’ udders and caused them to dry up. The whippoorwill feeds in flight on moths, beetles, mosquitoes, ants, grasshoppers, June bugs, gnats and other insects.

Dear Sun Spots: The 100 Pine Street Social Center is holding a fund-raiser “Wellness For The Members” to help disabled people from the area attend a camping trip to Dennysville, Maine (close to the Canadian border). Our goal is to have at least eight members go this year. The money will be used to defray expenses such as staffing, gas and food. The trip will take place from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6.

The 100 Pine Street Social Center is a nonprofit charitable organization, which provides a drop-in center for disabled people in the area. All donations will be gratefully appreciated. – Barbara Howe, Lewiston.

A Sun Spots reply July 8 to Origene Nadeau of No Town should have noted that there is no longer a staff attorney in the Lewiston offices of Legal Services for the Elderly. Readers should call the hot line provided in that column: 800-750-5353.

Dear Sun Spots: Elisa Boxer of Channel 8 was expecting. Did she have her baby yet? – A Hebron Reader.

Answer:
Yes. She and husband Doug Cook had a a son Evan Cook on April 7.

You may be interested in noting that Boxer is an Emmy-award winning journalist whose writing has been honored with two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. The Maine Associated Press also has awarded her first place in the writing category for three years running. Boxer has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s from Bowdoin College. She was a crime reporter for the Lowell Sun in Massachusetts where she was named New England’s “Rookie of the Year” by the New England Newspaper Association.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be posted at www.sunjournal.com in the Inform Us section under Press Release.


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