This column is the last of three summarizing the Christmas bird counts in Maine. The period began Dec. 14 and ended Jan. 5.

The Greater Portland Count, held Dec. 14, resulted in a count of 104 species. As usual, this count documented the most species of any Maine count. Notable waterfowl included a gadwall, a Eurasian wigeon, 42 northern pintails, 41 harlequin ducks, a pair of Barrow’s goldeneye and 11 ruddy ducks.

Lingering birds included two double-crested cormorants, a dozen great blue herons, a spotted sandpiper, three belted kingfishers, 12 northern flickers, eight Carolina wrens, 77 eastern bluebirds, 15 hermit thrushes, a common yellowthroat, five fox sparrows, two Savannah sparrows, a red-winged blackbird and a common grackle.

Owl diversity was notable. Counters found seven great horned owls, two snowy owls, a barred owl, a long-eared owl and a northern saw-whet owl.

A lark sparrow was a fine rarity. Six American pipits were nice finds as well.

The Biddeford-Kennebunkport count yielded 87 species on Jan. 2. Nineteen species of waterfowl were found, including singletons of wood duck, northern pintail, green-winged teal and ruddy duck.

The number of lingering species was notable for a count held so late in the count period. Lingering birds included a double-crested cormorant, five great blue herons, a little blue heron, two killdeer, two belted kingfishers, four northern flickers, two American kestrels, two Carolina wren, 67 eastern bluebirds, three hermit thrushes, a yellow-breasted chat and seven Savannah sparrows.

The rarest bird on the count was a western tanager. This species has been popping up occasionally during the winter.

Matinicus Island is about 20 miles off the midcoast of Maine in outer Penobscot Bay. Three birders flew to the island on Jan. 2 to conduct the CBC there, spending seven hours before flying back to the mainland. A total of 39 species were found.

This count has great potential for finding rarities. No spectacular rarities were found this year. Notable birds included eight dovekies, a winter wren, four Carolina wrens, two American robins, a swamp sparrow, two northern cardinals and four common grackles. The only finches were two pine siskins.

Let’s head north. The Misery Count (centered about 30 miles south of Jackman) was held on Jan. 2. This count usually has a low number of species in this harsh winter landscape. This year, 14 species were tallied, including three gray jays. Ten common ravens were found, but not a single American crow. This count can have spectacular numbers of finches during irruption years, but this year’s count yielded only five common redpolls.

The Presque Isle Count produced an impressive list of 40 species on Jan. 3. Highlights were a northern goshawk, a merlin and three snowy owls. This winter has been a poor one for northern shrikes, so the one found at Presque Isle was notable.

Lingering birds included two American robins and nine brown-headed cowbirds. The fields in this part of the state often host large flocks of snow buntings. This year, only 11 buntings were found.

Finch diversity was quite good. Four purple finches, 10 pine siskins, 24 common redpolls, 15 white-winged crossbills and a very impressive 126 pine grosbeaks were found.

Continuing a bit north, the Caribou count yielded a list of 40 species as well on Dec. 14. Highlights included an Iceland gull, two northern shrikes, six gray jays, 27 Bohemian waxwings and five cedar waxwings. The four northern cardinals were impressive, as this species continues to expand northward. Northern finches included 51 pine grosbeaks, three red crossbills, 25 common redpolls and an excellent count of 73 evening grosbeaks.

Herb Wilson teaches ornithology and other biology courses at Colby College. He welcomes reader comments and questions at

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.