We’ll take a tour along the coast today, in this second of three columns highlighting some Maine Christmas Bird Counts.

Let’s begin with the York County count, which was conducted Dec. 17. This region has the most moderate climate in the state so we always expect a diversity of lingering breeding birds and migrants. This year did not disappoint.

Eastern bluebirds have become dependable birds in December along the southern Maine coast. This year, volunteers counted 110 of them. Other lingering species included two great blue herons, three northern harriers, five belted kingfishers, four northern flickers, eight Carolina wrens, a ruby-crowned kinglet, four gray catbirds, 23 northern mockingbirds and a chipping sparrow.

Fourteen species of waterfowl were present; mallards proved the most abundant with 1,109 observed. A northern pintail was a nice find.

Grebes were hard to come by. Only two red-necked grebes and a dozen horned grebes were seen. Twenty-nine great cormorants represent a fine total.

Other highlights along the shore were 118 sanderlings, five dunlin, 10 black-legged kittiwakes, a dovekie and 17 razorbills.

Three merlins, a peregrine falcon and two northern shrikes (uncommon this winter) were no doubt terrorizing smaller birds.

The Biddeford/Kennebunkport count yielded 80 species on Dec. 29. Among the highlights of 18 waterfowl species were a Eurasian wigeon, seven harlequin ducks and a Barrow’s goldeneye. Ten northern gannets were just offshore.

Three dunlin were nice Maine winter finds. And counters also spotted a peregrine falcon.

Eastern bluebirds put in a good appearance with 132 seen. Other lingering birds included a great blue heron, an American woodcock, a northern flicker, two Carolina wrens, 18 northern mockingbirds, a yellow-rumped warbler, two fox sparrows, a Savannah sparrow and a common grackle.

Finches were scarce. The highlight was 18 evening grosbeaks.

Farther north on the same day, the North Penobscot Bay Count in the Belfast area had 61 species. Two wood ducks were the only unexpected finds among 13 species of waterfowl.

Five razorbills were a delightful surprise, as was a peregrine falcon. Two northern shrikes were notable.

Lingering birds included a belted kingfisher, two northern flickers and a hardy Carolina wren.

Among finches, the 68 pine grosbeaks and 23 evening grosbeaks stood out.

The Mount Desert Island count on Dec. 15 produced 57 species, including 12 species of waterfowl. This area is usually good for common eiders in the winter, and the 1,502 on the count confirmed the pattern. A Barrow’s goldeneye was present.

Though four great cormorants were unsurprising, the two double-crested cormorants were for this time of year.

A single Bonaparte’s gull added a fourth gull species to the count, with the more common herring gulls, ring-billed gulls and great black-backed gulls.

The highlight had to be a rare red-headed woodpecker. Lingering species were few and far between; a belted kingfisher was most notable.

Northern finches were represented by 40 purple finches, a white-winged crossbill and 19 pine siskins.

Just a bit to the north and east, the Schoodic Count on New Year’s Day produced a list of 62 species in the rain and snow. Fourteen species of waterfowl were highlighted by 54 harlequin ducks.

The count of 93 red-necked grebes was a fine total. The highlight of the count was the discovery of four species of alcids. In addition to the expected black guillemots, the Schoodic teams found 55 razorbills, three thick-billed murres and best of all, three dovekies.

The gull count included 113 black-legged kittiwakes and two Iceland gulls (uncommon this winter in Maine).

A northern harrier, a red-winged blackbird and a common grackle were hardy lingerers. Winter visitors from the north included a northern shrike and 22 pine grosbeaks.

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

[email protected]

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