This column is the first of three summarizing the results of some of the recent Christmas Bird Counts in Maine. We’ll cover some inland sites in today’s report.
The Lewiston-Auburn Count, held on December 20, yielded a count of 44 species. A singleton Green-winged Teal was found, always a good inland winter sighting. The 28 Lesser Scaup were noteworthy finds. The raptor diversity was decent with a dozen Bald Eagles, four Cooper’s Hawks, nine Red-tailed Hawks and one Rough-legged Hawk.
Nine Red-breasted Nuthatches were a nice total in a winter where this species is uncommon. Lingering species included five Eastern Bluebirds and a Hermit Thrush.
Finches were scarce with only four species found including 25 Purple Finches and four Pine Siskins.
A bit north, the Hartland Count held on December 27 produced a count of 35 species. A Northern Pintail was an excellent find. Three Bald Eagles and two Red-tailed Hawks were the only raptors tallied. Sixteen Red-breasted Nuthatches were notable.
A brave Great Blue Heron was found; some open water must have been present. Only two finch species were found (41 Pine Siskins and 75 American Goldfinches).
Counters on the Farmington Count, held on December 20, found only 30 species. The only aquatic birds of any stripe were three Common Loons. A lone Bald Eagle was the only bird of prey.
Seven Eastern Bluebirds were surprising discoveries as were the 79 American Robins. Both waxwings were present: 79 Cedar Waxwings and two Bohemian Waxwings.
We continue to build evidence that this winter is a poor one for irruptive finches. In Farmington, the only finches were 14 House Finches, 15 Pine Siskins and 93 American Goldfinches.
The Unity count was also held on December 20. This count was excellent with 49 species found, reflecting in part the army of 44 observers who participated. Unusual species included a Wood Duck, a Merlin, a Gray Catbird and a Savannah Sparrow.
Waldo Count has a strong Wild Turkey population, demonstrated by the 337 turkeys found on the count. Other game birds found were four Ruffed Grouse and a Ring-necked Pheasant.
Two owls were found: one Great Horned Owl and three Barred Owls. A Red-bellied Woodpecker was a pleasant surprise.
One Northern Shrike was a nice find for a winter where this irruptive species seems scarce so far this winter. Snow Buntings put on a good show with 103 tallied.
Six species of finches were found including a single Purple Finch, 14 Common Redpolls and two Evening Grosbeaks.
Reflecting the high degree of participation, record high counts were tallied for 18 of the 49 species.
We’ll move over to Sweden in Oxford County for a look at the results of their December 27 count. The participants found 44 species.
Five species of waterfowl were found along with five Common Loons. The loons represented excellent sightings for inland Maine in late December.
Four Bald Eagles and a Red-tailed Hawk were expected but not the lingering American Kestrel, a hardy bird indeed. A Snowy Owl and a Barred Owl rounded out the list of the birds of prey.
Red-breasted Nuthatches were well represented with 45 individuals found. Forty-five American Robins were notable.
Only two finch species were found: six Pine Siskins and 92 American Goldfinches. The highlight of the count was an eye-popping Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Most members of this species are in Central America or northern South America. A super sighting!
We’ll end with a stop in northern Somerset Count in the Misery Township. The tough winter weather here is inhospitable for many bird diversity is usually low. This year’s January 2 count was typical with 14 species found and 193 individuals. Three Gray Jays were delightful but expected in this part of the state. The only finches were five Common Redpolls.
[First published on January 18, 2015]