This column is the third of three in which I describe some of the notable sightings of selected Christmas Bird Counts (hereafter, CBC’s) conducted in Maine from mid-December until early January.
We’ll travel all around the state today. The general results confirm the patterns seen for previously described counts: poor year for irruptive finches and Bohemian Waxwings, great year for Snowy Owls, some remarkably hardy birds that should by rights be far to our south.
Let’s go way Down East to the Mooseport-Jonesport area. The CBC there on December 21 yielded 56 species. American Black Ducks are a species of concern. On this count, they outnumbered Mallards by a count of 679 to 89. Fifteen species of waterfowl were tallied including a couple of Harlequin Ducks and 1,395 Common Eiders.
A Merlin was a nice find. About 800 gulls were found, but not a single Iceland Gull or Glaucous Gull among them.
Three Bohemian Waxwings, a Northern Shrike, two Northern Mockingbirds and 2 Swamp Sparrows were notable. The only finches were American Goldfinches.
Up in the County, intrepid Caribou counters welcomed the New Year with a count of 24 species, starting their day with -27 degree cold, warming to a balmy 7 degrees. The two most common species were introduced Rock Pigeons (277) and European Starlings (2,625). Good sightings of native birds included 241 Snow Buntings, four Horned Larks, a Gray Jay and a lone Pine Grosbeak.
Just a bit south, Presque Isle participants found 35 species on December 28. Some open water must have been available because of the nice count of 132 Mallards and 12 American Black Ducks. Raptors included a Rough-legged Hawk and six (!) Snowy Owls. Three Northern Shrikes were also found.
The flat, open terrain of the area is great for ground-dwelling birds so the 1,058 Snow Buntings were not unexpected.
Other notable finds were six Cedar Waxwings, seven Common Redpolls and seven Pine Siskins
We’ll head south now to the Bangor region. The Bangor-Bucksport count on December 28 yielded a fine count of 52 species. Eight species of waterfowl were detected including five Bufflehead and two Barrow’s Goldeneye. A Red-throated Loon is always a good find away from the coast.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice and Carolina Wrens are expanding their range northward. All were found on the Bangor CBC with the 64 titmice being particularly impressive.
Seven Purple Finches were a nice count of a hard-to-find bird this winter.
Just a bit north, the Orono-Old Town CBC produced a count of 49 species on December 14. Thirteen Barrow’s Goldeneye and a Northern Harrier were excellent sightings. Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, 32 Tufted Titmice and a Carolina Wren were nice counts.
Five Cedar Waxwings graced this count. A lone Red-winged Blackbird was perhaps reconsidering its decision to not move south. The only finches were House Finches (2) and American Goldfinches (490).
Farmington counters braved -20 degree temperatures on January 4 and found 37 species. Highlights included a Northern Shrike, two Horned Larks, 48 Bohemian Waxwings, 22 Cedar Waxwings and a Lapland Longspur.
Lingering birds included a Hermit Thrush and three Rusty Blackbirds. A Northern Mockingbird was a nice find as well.
Finches were hard to come by but the diversity was pretty good for this finch-poor winter. Counters found four Purple Finches and a Common Redpoll to go along with four House Finches and 137 American Goldfinches.
The Hartland CBC is one of the newer counts in Maine. On December 21, Hartland participants found 39 species. Highlights included two Northern Goshawks, two Northern Shrikes, 72 Snow Buntings and 35 Common Redpolls. Lingering birds included a Northern Flicker, two Rusty Blackbirds and a Common Grackle.
Finally, the Sweden count on December 27 yielded 33 species. Highlights were two Red-bellied Woodpeckers and 116 Snow Buntings. The 176 American Goldfinches were the only finches found.