FREEPORT – Jeanette and Derek Lovitch, the owners of Freeport Wild Bird Supply, have begun their sixth annual Winter SnowBird(er) Contest. Every Saturday morning, anyone interested in viewing birds in their natural habitat is invited to meet the Lovitches at 8 a.m., at the store on 541 U.S. Route 1. Bring warm winter clothing, they advise, and join them for about a two-hour walk around Freeport and surrounding towns, where the birds are. There is no charge.

This time of year, the bird walk is just ducky.

“The abundance of water birds in winter in the Freeport area is impressive,” Derek Lovitch said. “There’s just a lot of ducks around.”

The Lovitches wanted to add some incentive for the winter bird walks, so they made a little contest out of it. Each time a person joins the Winter SnowBird(er), he or she accumulates points, based on the temperature at the start of the walk. The person with the most points wins the grand prize, an Onyx Clever-Clean feeder with accessory kit and tray from Droll Yankees. The runner-up will receive two weekly organic vegetable pickups at Laughing Stock Farms CSA of Freeport. Finally, the third-place finisher gets a $25 gift certificate to Mid-Coast Growers in Bowdoin for annuals and perennials.

“This was just developed to increase participation in the winter, when some people might look at the thermometer and decide to stay in bed,” Derek Lovitch said. “It’s a way to encourage people to get outdoors in the depths of winter.”

The Winter SnowBird(er) runs through the last Saturday in March.

Jeanette Lovitch said people who take the walks can expect to see a “different fleet” of birds this time of year.

“Winter tends to be mostly waterfront sites,” she said.

Sea ducks likely to be seen include the common goldeneye, bufflehead and scoters. The southernmost wintering flock of Barrow’s goldeneyes on the East Coast resides in the lower Harraseeket River in South Freeport. The Lovitches frequently visit Winslow Park and the Freeport Town Wharf to enjoy this beautiful duck.

“Because this is expected to be an irruption year (an irregular migration of large numbers of birds to areas where they aren’t typically found), for several species, including snowy owls and common red polls, we have even more species to look forward to,” Derek Lovitch said.

For a recap of what we the group has been seeing on recent bird walks, go to www.freeportwildbirdsupply.com/bird_news.asp.

The Barrow’s goldeneye has been spotted in the lower Harraseeket River during Winter SnowBird(er) Contests, held by Jeanette and Derek Lovitch of Freeport Wild Bird Supply.  


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