This post is the second of three, reviewing highlights of Maine Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs), sponsored by the National Audubon Society. Each count was conducted on a day between December 14 and January 5 within a circle with a 15-mile diameter.
It’s interesting to compare CBCs located close together. The Bangor-Bucksport CBC produced a list of 49 species on January 1. Five species of waterfowl were headlined by 448 Mallards.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers continue to push northward in Maine; three were found this year. A Merlin was a nice find.
Bohemian Waxwings have been scarce so far this winter so the 23 in Bangor-Bucksport were notable. Lingering birds included a winter wren, five Carolina Wrens, 14 Eastern Bluebirds, four Northern Mockingbirds and a Chipping Sparrow. The only northern finches were three Pine Grosbeaks.
The Orono-Old Town CBC is just a few miles north where 50 species were found on December 18. The best of the six species of waterfowl were six Barrow’s Goldeneye.
Lingering migratory species included a Carolina Wren, ten Eastern Bluebirds, three Northern Mockingbirds and a Pine Warbler.
In striking contrast to the Bangor-Bucksport CBC, Northern Finches put on a great show in Orono-Old Town: five Pine Grosbeaks, ten Purple Finches, five Red Crossbills, two White-winged Crossbills, 140 Common Redpolls and 68 Pine Siskins.
Let’s head a bit south and west to Unity. On December 18, CBC participants there tallied 50 species. Seven species of waterfowl included two surprises, a Ring-necked Duck and two Lesser Scaup.
White-winged gulls seem scarce so far this winter so the Glaucous Gull in Unity was a nice find. Five species of woodpeckers included five Red-bellied Woodpeckers and a lingering Northern Flicker.
Lingering half-hardy birds included eleven Eastern Bluebirds and a Northern Mockingbird. The only irruptive finches were six Purple Finches and a Pine Siskin.
Let’s go 15 miles southwest to the Waterville CBC circle. On January 2, 50 species were tallied. Waterfowl diversity was excellent with 10 species including an American Wigeon, a Lesser Scaup and two Barrow’s Goldeneye.
Lingering land birds included four Northern Flickers, two Carolina Wrens, a Northern Mockingbird, two Brown-headed Cowbirds and a Red-winged Blackbird. Six Common Redpolls and a Purple Finch were the only Northern Finches this year.
Off to Hartland we go, about 30 miles north of Waterville. The CBC there on December 26 yielded 50 species. Waterfowl were particularly good with a Green-winged Teal and five Greater Scaup in addition to five common species. A Great Blue Heron and a Belted Kingfisher were toughing it out, surely long gone now to warmer climes.
Few Northern Shrikes have pushed into the state so far this winter so the one in Hartland was notable as were the 17 Horned Larks and 53 Snow Buntings..
Lingering birds from the fall included an Eastern Bluebird, a Brown Thrasher and a Savannah Sparrow. The only irruptive finches were one Purple Finch, one Common Redpoll and five Pine Siskins.
The Bunker Hill CBC on December 20 yielded a count of 54 species. This area includes the towns of Alna, Whitefield, Nobleboro and Damariscotta Mills. Nine species of waterfowl included two Red-breasted Mergansers.
The four species of diurnal raptors included a Northern Harrier and a nice count of 21 Bald Eagles. Lingering land birds included a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a Northern Flicker, 53 Eastern Bluebirds, Savannah Sparrow, and a Lincoln’s Sparrow. The highlight of the count was a Bullock’s Oriole, a western species, hanging out at a feeder with a Baltimore Oriole.
Finches included 14 Pine Grosbeaks and 14 Evening Grosbeaks.
We’ll end our tour in Grand Lake Stream in interior Washington County. The winter weather here is quite challenging. The CBC on December 17 produced an expected low number of species.
Those 25 species included a Spruce Grouse, a Gray Jay and a surprising White-crowned Sparrow. Northern finches included a Purple Finch, 10 Red Crossbills, 20 White-winged Crossbills, a Common Redpoll and 70 Pine Siskins.