The Kennebec Historical Society’s September presentation, “Bald Eagles, Bear Cubs, and Hermit Bill: Memories of a Maine Wildlife Biologist,” is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, at Hope Baptist Church, 726 Western Ave. in Manchester.

Wildlife biologist Ron Joseph with two bear cubs. Submitted photo

Presenter Ron Joseph will share his book’s stories of growing up in central Maine in the 1950s and ’60s, working as a wildlife biologist, and meeting Mainers like retired dairy farmers Ruth and Martin French of Dover-Foxcroft, who repurposed their barn’s empty cow stalls into a wildlife rehabilitation center.

The couple specialized in rescuing orphaned bear cubs, providing solitary cubs with teddy bears as temporary surrogate litter mates while biologists scrambled to find sow bears willing to adopt the orphans, according to a news release from the society.

Joseph, who was born in Waterville, spent childhood summers on his maternal grandparents’ nearby dairy farm. He became fascinated with songbirds, often spending hours perched on stacks of hay bales in a post-and-beam barn watching swallows dart in and out to feed their nestlings.

His mother encouraged his love of birds by giving him a 1947 copy of “Peterson’s Field Guide to Eastern Birds.” The book’s colored plates and range maps revealed a fascinating world of birds just outside his front door. His farm chores, from milking cows to collecting chicken eggs, were often interrupted by sprints through the barnyard to identify Indigo Buntings, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Brown Thrashers, and dozens of other songbirds.

The presentation is free to the public, with donations accepted. The program will be preceded at 5 p.m. by a potluck supper and at 6 p.m. by the society’s annual meeting and election of directors.

For details about the potluck supper, contact Anne Cough at or 207-582-2823. Any questions about the presentation should be directed to KHS Executive Director Scott Wood at 207-622-7718.


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