Bear v. Bird feeder… Varmints… A plot of your own at the Beach

This Week in Lincolnville: Wild Critters

Our Neighbors
Mon, 05/22/2023 - 7:45am

    My old neighbor on Slab City Road recently had her bird feeders destroyed. She thought it was a bear. “Raccoons” said her Facebook  friends. A few nights later, she scored a photo with the help of her husband, who shown a spotlight on the ursine intruder, happily lounging in their yard, having pillaged all the suet.

    We live in a community that we share with wild critters. 

    Europeans moved here 250 years ago and cut down the forests, dug the rocks out of the soil, and built the stone walls which remain, marking the boundaries of long forgotten farmsteads. But the soil here is, well, terrible. 

    When cheap land became available out West, many aspiring farmers answered the call, and abandoned the rock fields of the Pine Tree State.

    And the trees returned. Old photos of our community show a landscape barren of forest, but today the stone walls are usually found deep in the woods.

    Those woods hold an entire ecosystem of critters. Deer, raccoons, skunks, porcupines. Bobcats, fishers, weasels, otters, and mink. Lumbering moose, foxes. The coyotes, famously adaptive, who migrated from their native lands in the Southwest U.S. to take over the ecological niche left by the vanished wolves…

    We generally live in harmony with our wild neighbors. The deer and turkeys and raccoons help themselves to our gardens, the foxes help themselves to our chickens. In return, we hunt the deer and turkeys and the occasional bear for food. We trap them for their fur, or just to keep them out of our corn patch.

    Heh. My old man used a Havahart trap for the raccoons, which caught the vermin unharmed, to be released at distant location. Of course not anywhere near the garden of someone with whom he held a grudge….

    And speaking of my old man, he swore he saw a mountain lion while hunting off Slab City Road in the early 1980s. Even fired a shot into the air to scare the cougar off. But of course, Maine wildlife officials insist there are no mountain lions in the state.

    I walked my domesticated wolves to the beach the other morning and spotted a bald eagle soaring over the shore… which then got attacked by two crows, clearly annoyed by the majestic raptor in their midst.

    I love that what was once a rare sight is now a source of amusement — the bald eagle is back. And the crows are not happy.

    Birds. I both love and hate their singing as soon as the sky lightens, which is rather early this time of year. And then there is that confused woodpecker, constantly trying to dig grubs out of the rusty steel barrel in the garden.

    The turkeys — a recent return — they weren’t here when I was a kid, but now they are everywhere. Welcome back, stay out of my garden!

    While speaking of wild critters in this little town on the coast, I cannot forget the ones in the water! Before it was reclaimed by the ocean, there used to be a mound of shells left by the Native People between The Beach and Ducktrap. Oysters and mussels and clams were feasted on and the shells were thrown in a huge pile for generations.

    Fish, like alewives and salmon, swim up the Ducktrap River to spawn. Hike into the Ducktrap River Preserve at Tanglewood, and watch the alewives jump Turner Falls on their yearly journey. Too bad that so many rivers nearby still have obsolete dams which block their progress.

    As a Lincolnville resident for 48 years (minus a few years to see the world) things have changed. The garden grows crops that would not survive when I was child, due to global warming, and we got ticks in exchange. The lobster fishery is stronger, but the shrimp are gone. Remember the trucks selling Maine shrimp for a buck a pound at the side of the road? A giant bowl of boiled shrimp, to shuck and dip in garlic butter, a childhood staple I have been unable to share with my own children.

    The critters were here before us, and we can live harmoniously with them. And maybe a hungry black bear needs a little suet now and then.

    Beach Gardens

    Want to tend your own patch of land on the coast of Maine? Lee Cronin is seeking volunteers to plant, weed, and water flower beds at Lincolnville Beach. Plant whatever, make it your own! Impress the tourists, make your neighbors envious with your beautiful garden plot! Put it on Instagram, bask in the compliments. And all for just an hour or two a week! Give Lee a call at 207-236-0028, and she’ll meet you at the beach.

    OK friends, neighbors, and strangers, have a wonderful week. Please reach out to me at with any news you want shared, criticisms, or cool animal spottings. Be nice to each other and yourselves.