This column is the last in a series of three documenting the highlights of Christmas Bird Counts in Maine, held between mid-December and early January. We’ll take a whirlwind tour all over the state today.
The results from the counts covered today mirror the general trends of other counts in Maine: low numbers of irruptive winter finches, Bohemian Waxwings and northern owls and a good diversity of lingering species that normally are found well to our south.
The Sweden count produced 36 species. A Red-headed Woodpecker was an excellent find. Lingering birds included two Wood Ducks, a Great Blue Heron and three Rusty Blackbirds. The 50 Cedar Waxwings provided a notably high count for this year in Maine. The Sweden counters established a record high count for an introduced bird, the House Sparrow with 529 tallied.
Let’s fly out to Monhegan Island where a total of 47 species were found. Of course, the usual seaducks and loons were present. This island usually harbors some waifs at any time of year and this December was no exception as a Sedge Wren was found. This species is an extremely rare breeder in the state so any record of the species is notable. Fourteen Carolina Wrens were present as well.
Lingering species included a Double-crested Cormorant, a Hermit Thrush, a couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Common Grackle and a Red-winged Blackbird. White-crowned Sparrows migrate through Maine between their more southerly wintering areas and northerly breeding areas so one found on Monhegan was a very nice find.
Continuing along the coast, our next stop is the Bath Christmas Count. This count yielded an impressive 83 species. This total included 19 species of waterfowl, high-lighted by both Lesser Scaup and Great Scaup, a Ring-necked Duck and 17 Barrow’s Goldeneye. The 254 Red-necked Grebes far outnumbered the 38 Horned Grebes as well as the Red-throated Loons and Common Loons. Three species of alcids were found with three Thick-billed Murres and 58 Razorbills joining the more expected Black Guillemots.
Birds of prey included 23 Bald Eagles, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Red-shouldered Hawk and five Red-tails.
The Freeport count produced a list of 61 species. Sixteen species of waterfowl were highlighted by an impressive count of 1,871 American Black Ducks. Grebes and loons were in short supply.
Lingering birds included a Double-crested Cormorant, two Belted Kingfishers, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Fox Sparrow. The 235 American Robins made for an impressive count.
Let’s head up the St. Croix River to the estuarine region around Calais and St. Stephen. That count yielded a list of 34 species. The most common waterfowl were Common Goldeneye and Common Merganser. Most of the species this year were expected residents or winter visitors. Lingering birds were a Common Grackle and a Rusty Blackbird.
Lingering species included nine Great Blue Herons, three Belted Kingfishers, a Hermit Thrush, an American Pipit, one Orange-crowned Warbler, 44 Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Common Yellowthroat and a Red-winged Blackbird.
I always like to compare the results of the Bangor count with the Orono-Old Town count. The count circles are quite close together so one would expect most of the same species and similar abundances.
This year, the Bangor count yielded 43 species while the Orono count produced 48 species. By and large, common species were found in approximately equal densities in the two areas.
These two counts were among the “finchiest” counts this year with Pine Siskins (scarce as hen’s teeth in most parts of Maine this winter) found on both counts. A single Pine Grosbeak was found in Bangor along with 14 Purple Finches. The 1,0003 American Goldfinches set a new high-count record for Bangor. Orono has three Purple Finches and 275 American Goldfinches.
Other notable birds in Bangor included a Gray Jay, two Northern Mockingbirds, 14 Bohemian Waxwings and a dozen White-throated Sparrows. Good finds on the Orono count included a couple of Barrow’s Goldeneyes, a Merlin, a Belted Kingfisher, a Northern Shrike, a Northern Mockingbird and rarest of all, an Orange-crowned Warbler.
The Farmington Count resulted in a tally of 39 species. Only a single House Finch was found this year. Tufted Titmice continue to move northward and westward into Maine; Farmington had 23 of these delightful birds this year. The 13 Brown Creepers set a high for the count. Waxwing numbers were pretty impressive with 159 Bohemians joined by 63 Cedars. The Farmington count circle has a lot of open land so the 102 Snow Buntings were not unexpected.
Other notable birds were a single Wilson’s Snipe, two Common Loons and seven Brown-headed Cowbirds.
[First published on February 7, 2010]