A red-tailed hawk is shown at the Center for Wildlife in York. The raptors were plentiful along the coast in a recent Christmas Bird Count. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

This column is the last of three reviewing highlights of some of the recent Maine Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs). This count season spanned Dec. 14 through Jan. 5 and this time we will take a coastal trip from York to Jonesport.

The counts in coastal York and Cumberland counties usually have the highest species counts and this year was no different. The York County count on Dec. 14 had 94 species. There were 17 species of waterfowl were spotted, the most unusual being six wood ducks, a northern shoveler and nine green-winged teal – all of which are rare in the winter.

Other waterbirds included six dovekies and 38 razorbills to go along with the more expected black guillemots. Only four species of gulls were present, none unusual. Both double-crested and great cormorants were found; the former outnumbered 31-2.

Seven raptor species were present, but 17 red-tailed hawks were the only species in double digits.

All-time high counts were noted for black scoters (980), red-bellied woodpeckers (47), tufted titmice (232) and Carolina wren (21). Two excellent rarities for Maine were a western tanager and a rock wren.

Lingering songbirds included a hermit thrush, a gray catbird, a pine warbler, a prairie warbler and a yellow-breasted chat. The eight species of finches included 73 common redpolls and 16 white-winged crossbills.


Two northern pintail were among the species noted in the Christmas Bird Count in the Biddeford-Kennebunk area. Heather Forcier/Associated Press

Eighty-one species appeared on the Biddeford-Kennebunkport count on Jan. 2. Two wood ducks, two northern pintail and a lesser scaup were the most unusual of the 16 waterfowl species.

Seven diurnal raptors were found, highlighted by new records of 14 bald eagles and 50 red-tailed hawks. Three owl species were sighted, including one snowy owl.

Lingering birds included a belted kingfisher, a yellow-bellied sapsucker, a pine warbler, a yellow-rumped warbler and a Savannah sparrow.

The six species of irruptive finches were present only in modest numbers.

The Portland CBC accumulated the most species of any count in Maine this season with 106 species on Dec. 14. The Portland counters had a whopping 20 species of waterfowl. Particularly notable were two brant, two wood ducks and a ring-necked duck.

Four species of auks were found – a singleton dovekie, razorbill and thick-billed murre – along with 35 black guillemots. A single Iceland gull was the only unexpected species.


Ten species of raptors included a red-shouldered hawk, 43 red-tailed hawks, a rough-legged hawk, a short-eared owl and a northern saw-whet owl.

Lingering birds included a killdeer, eight belted kingfishers, three yellow-bellied sapsuckers, nine northern flickers, six hermit thrushes, two American pipits, a fox sparrow,  an eastern meadowlark, two Baltimore orioles and three red-winged blackbirds.

Eight species of finches included 194 common redpolls and 82 pine grosbeaks.

A killdeer was among the surprises at the Christmas Bird Count in Portland on Dec. 14, 2020. David Duprey/Associated Press

The North Penobscot Bay count on Jan. 2 produced a list of 67 species. The 14 species of waterfowl included one Barrow’s goldeneye among the 93 common goldeneyes.

Four species of diurnal raptors included three red-shouldered hawks and two peregrine falcons. A barred owl and two northern saw-whet owls were the only nocturnal raptors.

The few hardy, lingering birds this year included a belted kingfisher, a northern flicker, three eastern bluebirds,  a white-crowned sparrow and a Baltimore oriole.


The most notable of the eight species of finches were the 59 pine grosbeaks and 10 evening grosbeaks.

The Mooseport-Jonesport count in extreme eastern Washington County yielded a count of 60 species on Dec. 19. The most notable of the 13 waterfowl were eight lesser scaup. Buffleheads and common eiders were the most common. Red-throated loons (50) were nearly as abundant as common loons (52).

Lingering birds were few and far between, but notable were a yellow-bellied sapsucker and a Baltimore oriole. Finch numbers were low. The ones documented were 12 purple fiches, 26 common redpolls, 30 American goldfinches and a pair of evening grosbeaks.

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

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