This post is the second of three reviewing the highlights of some of the recent Maine Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs). This count season spanned December 14 through January 5. We’ll concentrate on some inland counts this time.
On December 19, Augusta counters found 60 species. Seven species of waterfowl were tallied. Mallards (407), Canada Geese (300) and Common Mergansers (107) were the most common. Raptors included a Merlin, a Peregrine Falcon and a Northern Shrike. Northern Cardinals put on a good show with 185 individuals. The eight species of finches included five White-winged Crossbills, 26 Common Redpolls and 130 Pine Grosbeaks. Lingering birds included a Belted Kingfisher, 36 Eastern Bluebirds and a Gray Catbird.
Just up the Interstate on the next day, Waterville counters found 61 species. A Common Loon was found along with seven species of waterfowl. Five Barrow’s Goldeneyes were picked out from the 214 Common Goldeneyes. White-winged gulls have been scarce this winter so the five Iceland Gulls and one Glaucous Gull were notable. Forty Evening Grosbeaks and 32 Pine Grosbeaks were the highlights of the eight finches species present. A count of 189 Bohemian Waxwings was impressive. Lingering species were less common than in recent years. Notable reluctant migrators included a Northern Flicker, six Eastern Bluebirds and a Northern Mockingbird.
The Lewiston-Auburn CBC took place on New Year’s Day. Forty-seven species were found. Two Common Loons were tallied along with six species of waterfowl. The duck highlight was the nine Greater Ccaup. A Peregrine Falcon was a nice find. Lingering birds included a Belted Kingfisher, 32 Eastern Bluebirds and a Gray Catbird. Finches were less common than on most other counts with 17 Pine Grosbeaks and nine Purple Finches being most notable.
The Orono-Old Town count yielded 50 species on December 19. Five waterfowl species were tallied but only Mallards were common. Lingering birds included a Northern Flicker, four Eastern Bluebirds, a Hermit Thrush, a Gray Catbird and five Northern Mockingbirds. The nine species of finches were headed by a whopping 223 Evening Grosbeaks, 81 Common Redpolls and 62 Pine Grosbeaks. A stellar finch showing! This count usually has one of the high counts of Bohemian Waxwings and the 107 this season maintained the pattern.
Bangor CBC participants found 58 species on January 3. Eight species of waterfowl were tallied with five Bufflehead and a Barrow’s Goldeneye of note. Two Common Loons were still present. Buteo hawks were impressive with two Red-shouldered Hawks, a Rough-legged Hawk and 15 Red-tailed Hawks, posing a threat to small mammals. Two Peregrine Falcons were also present. Lingering species were few: two Eastern Bluebirds, two Carolina Wrens, a Fox Sparrow and a Common Grackle. Seven species of finches included 73 Pine Grosbeaks and 89 Common Redpolls.
Let’s head over to Sweden in southwestern Maine where 42 bird species were counted on December 28. Three species of game birds were seen: a Ruffed Grouse, 91 Wild Turkeys and three Ring-necked Pheasants (not a native species). Red-breasted Nuthatches were almost as common (99) as their White-breasted cousins (125 birds). Three Eastern Bluebirds were the only lingering birds. Northern finches were relatively scarce. Five species were headed by 30 Common Redpolls and three Pine Grosbeaks.
We’ll end with two counts that have much harsher winters than most count circles in Maine. These counts usually have modest species diversity and abundance.
On December 14, counters at Grand Lake Stream found 17 species and 168 individuals. A total of 25 Northern goshawks was reported, an amazing total. The harshness of the climate is indicated by the single American Crow and two Common Ravens. Six Pine Siskins were the only finches.
The Misery CBC (about 20 miles south of Jackman) yielded 16 species among 346 individuals on New Year’s Day. Highlights were 16 Gray Jays and a Boreal Chickadee. Only ten finches spread among three species were present.