Al Falster

 

Writing this column has allowed me to meet others who are interested in birds and passionate about nature.  I’ve made new friends and many have shared stories. I can count on reports and photos from Mac, Songo Sue, Mary and Ruthie. More than a few are like Mickey. He never failed to tease me when, pre-pandemic, my wife and I would stop into Suds for a pint. His good-natured ribbing always came with a story about a bird he’d seen while hunting or fishing.

Al Falster, Research Technologist at the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum, can also be counted on for a good story as well. He recently told me a story from his childhood that is worth retelling.

As a young boy, Al found a fledgling owl (picture provided by Al Falster) with an injured wing. He splinted the bird’s wing with a popsicle stick and fed him daily while the bird recovered, and recover it did. Al was able to release the bird back into the wild. He continued to leave food for the bird in the early days of its release. But even after the daily feeding stopped, the owl stayed close and Al grew accustomed to seeing his feathered friend each evening. This continued for some time until one day the owl abruptly left. A few days passed before Al found the owl had returned. This time, however, he was not alone. The owl had a mate. The two sat together on its usual perch that day. The next morning, the two had left never to return again. With their departure though, they left a gift – a dead mouse was on the threshold.

Stories like these amaze and enthrall but, for me, even better than the stories are the story tellers. Birds may give me a widow into the wild world around me, but birds have also opened up the opportunity to meet more people – more hikers, gardeners, fishermen, hunters – people who, like me, love the woods, mountains and waters in our area.

As we finish up 2020, I will shift from weekly to monthly articles. I hope to see you around town or on trails. Keep the stories coming! And, with a little luck, a vaccine will be here soon and we can resume group events at Valentine Farm. Happy Holidays to you all.

James Reddoch, of Albany Township and Boston, leads birding events for the Mahoosuc Land Trust. Visit Mahoosuc Land Trust at 162 North Road, Bethel, ME. To learn more visit www.mahoosuc.org. To contact James, send your emails to [email protected]

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