Bohemian waxwings typically arrive in Maine in February or March, but 30 were sighted on Jan. 4 during the Maine Christmas Bird Count in North Penobscot Bay. AP Photo/Dan Joling

This column is the first of two detailing highlights of recent Maine Christmas Bird Counts, which were held in various locales across the state between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5. The reports are based on 25 different CBCs.

Irruptive species add spice to any Christmas Bird Count. This year the northern finch stew has almost no spice. Few northern finches have appeared so far, suggesting that winter food abundance to our north is making their migrations into Maine unnecessary.

No pine grosbeaks were counted this winter. Evening grosbeaks were represented by quartets in Schoodic and Eastport.

The only common redpolls were two in Lewiston-Auburn and 16 in Sweden. The only pine siskins were two in Lewiston and eight in Misery Township.

Five Christmas Bird Counts had red crossbills with the highest counts being 15 in Grand Lake Stream, 13 in Misery Township and 10 in Schoodic. White-winged crossbills were found on four counts with highs of 36 in Eastport and 27 in Misery Township.

Winter often brings other northern invaders. American tree sparrows are regular members of our winter birdscape. They were found on all the Christmas Bird Counts except for Grand Lake Stream and Monhegan Island. They seemed to be a little less common this winter so far. Portland led the way with a count of 91 birds.

Northern shrikes were sparsely distributed. Single birds were found on 11 counts. Augusta had two and Portland had three.

Snowy owls have not staged a significant incursion into Maine yet this winter. The only ones were singletons in Biddeford and North Penobscot Bay.

Rough-legged hawks are delightful northern invaders in some years. This year only two were found, one on the North Penobscot Bay count and one in Eastport.

White-winged gulls are scarce this winter. Five counts reported Iceland gulls with a high of seven in Unity. Three counts had glaucous gulls with a maximum of six in North Penobscot Bay.

The last of our winter irruptive species is the bohemian waxwing. We can count on these birds every winter but their arrival is often not until February or March. The only ones counted this year were 30 in North Penobscot Bay.

Don’t despair yet. Any of these irruptive birds could stage an invasion later in the winter. You may have redpolls at your feeder yet.

Let’s move to selected regular winter residents. Harlequin ducks were found on five counts with a high of 87 in York County.

It takes care to pick a Barrow’s goldeneye out of a flock of the much more abundant common goldeneyes but sharp-eyed birders found them on five counts. The nine in Orono were the most seen.

A few northern gannets can be expected in Maine in the winter. They were seen on four south coastal counts with a maximum of 13 in Portland.

Gratifyingly, bald eagles occurred on every count except Monhegan. Augusta took high honors with 72.

Alcid diversity was disappointing this year. Every coastal count had the most reliable alcid, black guillemot, with a high of 41 in Thomaston-Rockland. Five counts had modest numbers of razorbills (high of 23 in York). York also had one dovekie and one common murre. Biddeford had one dovekie and Monhegan had four. One thick-billed murre at Moose Island-Jonesport completes the alcid total.

As expected, black-capped chickadees occurred on every count. The highest counts were 774 in Augusta and 612 in Biddeford.

Golden-crowned kinglets were also found on every count with high counts of 84 in Eastport and 40 in Hartland. Unlike ruby-crowned kinglets, golden-crowned kinglets do not migrate. They forage mostly at the tops of conifers and have a thin voice that does not carry well. I think these delightful sprites are one of most undercounted birds.

Most counts had a handful of song sparrows and white-throated sparrows with higher numbers on southern coastal counts. High counts were 74 song sparrows in Portland and 110 white-throats in York.

Herb Wilson taught ornithology and other biology courses at Colby College. He welcomes reader comments and questions at [email protected]

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