This post is the second of three in which I will describe some of the notable sightings of some of the Christmas Bird Counts (hereafter, CBC’s) conducted in Maine.  We’ll take a tour around inland portions of the state this week.  The last column will cover some of the coastal and off-shore counts.

The Lewiston-Auburn CBC on December 22 produced a nice mixture of lingering species and winter visitors from the north.  Enough water was open to provide habitat for 80 Lesser Scaup, five Common Loons, a Pied-billed Grebe, two Horned Grebes, and a Great Cormorant.  Half-hardy species included 16 Eastern Bluebirds, nine Northern Mockingbirds and 39 American Robins.

Winter visitors included a Peregrine Falcon, a Northern Shrike, 75 Bohemian Waxwings (along with 26 Cedar Waxwings), 20 Pine Grosbeaks and 296 Common Redpolls.  The final species tally was 52.

The Unity CBC produced 44 species on December 15.  Lingering birds included a Great Blue Heron and two American Pipits.  A Rough-legged Hawk was a treat along with three Northern Goshawks.

Winter finches included 8 Pine Grosbeaks, 318 Common Redpolls, a single Pine Siskin, and nine Evening Grosbeaks.

The Bangor-Bucksport CBC on December 29 provided a marvelous mixture of rare birds, lingering birds and irruptive finches.  A feeding station in Winterport produced a Townsend’s Warbler, a western species that appears sporadically in the winter in the east.  As of this writing, this hardy and perhaps confused warbler is still present.  Most Townsend’s Warblers winter in Mexico or further south in Central America.

A Pine Warbler was also found on the count; most winter in the southeastern and Gulf Coast states.  A Common Grackle and a Baltimore Oriole were also unexpected lingering birds.  One Common Loon was sighted.

A suite of birds have been expanding northward through Maine.  Excellent counts of some of these species on this CBC indicate continued expansion of ranges.  Bangor counters found three Red-bellied Woodpeckers, 99 Tufted Titmice, five Northern Mockingbirds, and 75 Northern Cardinals.

Our state bird seems to be doing well in this area; CBC participants counted 870 Black-capped Chickadees.

This count had its share of northern visitors as well: a Peregrine Falcon, two Northern Shrikes, 78 Bohemian Waxwings, 110 Pine Grosbeaks and 175 Common Redpolls.

Let’s head up to Aroostook Count for a couple of CBC’s.  These counts had a distinctly northern flavor.  The Presque Isle CBC yielded a nice list of 35 species.  Two unexpected lingering birds were a Brown Thrasher and a Savannah Sparrow.

A common pattern in the northern part of our state is that Common Ravens outnumber American Crows.  Final score on this count: ravens 192, crows 138.  A Gray Jay was not unexpected but always a delight to see.  The open fields of eastern Aroostook County are always good for ground-living passerines.  The nice count of 242 Snow Buntings was expected.

Irruptive finches included four Red Crossbills, 615 Common Redpolls and 30 Evening Grosbeaks.

Further north, the Caribou CBC produced 30 species on December 29.  No lingering birds were found here.  Two Northern Cardinals were nice finds.  Highlights were a Black-backed Woodpecker, a Northern Shrike, 935 Common Redpolls, one Hoary Redpoll, 68 Pine Grosbeaks, and 17 Evening Grosbeaks.

[First published on January 20, 2013]