Thursday, April 17, 2014
This column is the third of three in which I describe some of the notable sightings of selected Christmas Bird Counts (hereafter, CBCs) conducted in Maine from mid-December until early January.
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.
In the Mooseport-Jonesport area, the CBC on Dec. 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 seen, 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 two swamp sparrows were notable. The only finches were American goldfinches.
Up in the County, Caribou counters welcomed the New Year with a count of 24 species. The two most common species were 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 Dec. 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.
Other notable finds were six cedar waxwings, seven common redpolls and seven pine siskins.
The Bangor-Bucksport count on Dec. 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.
Seven purple finches was a nice count.
The Orono-Old Town CBC produced a count of 49 species on Dec. 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 on Jan. 4 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 counters found four purple finches and a common redpoll to go with four house finches and 137 American goldfinches.
On Dec. 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.
The Sweden count on Dec. 27 yielded 33 species. Highlights were two red-bellied woodpeckers and 116 snow buntings. The 176 American goldfinches were the only finches found.
Herb Wilson teaches ornithology and other biology courses at Colby College. He welcomes reader comments and questions at: