This column is the last of three reviewing the results of the most recent Christmas Bird Counts in Maine. We’ll jump all around the state today.

Two counts were conducted in Aroostook County, one in Presque Isle and a new count in the Caribou region. The Presque Isle count produced a fine list of 38 species. A bit of open water yielded 11 mallards, 52 American black ducks and seven common goldeneyes. Two great black-backed gulls were the only gulls found.

The 38 bald eagles were a record high for the count, as were the seven northern cardinals, a species continuing to expand northward in Maine.

Aroostook County has lots of open countryside, so the 461 snow buntings and a horned lark were not surprising.

Only two lingering species were found in this colder part of the state: a northern harrier and a common grackle.

Northern finches were scarce, with a pair of pine siskins and a pair of evening grosbeaks along with higher numbers of purple finches and American goldfinches.

A bit further north in Limestone, counters amassed a list of 26 species in the inaugural count for this area. Rain through most of the day certainly depressed the totals. Four species of ducks were found (mallards, American black ducks, common goldeneyes and common mergansers).

A sharp-shinned hawk was the only diurnal raptor. Five northern shrikes made for a nice total. The only lingering birds were a pair of hardy American robins. Two species of finches were found, with the highlight being 27 common redpolls along with the more numerous American goldfinches.

The misery count near The Forks rivals the Aroostook counts in the severity of the winter. This year, participants found 22 species. As usual, no lingering species were found.

Eighteen ruffed grouse and 12 gray jays were both all-time highs for the count. For the fourth year in a row, no boreal chickadees were found.

This count had the best finch diversity of any in Maine this year, with 46 American goldfinches, 340 pine siskins, 34 purple finches, four red crossbills, 17 white-winged crossbills and four pine grosbeaks.

The Orono and Bangor counts are within 10 miles of each other, so I find it interesting to compare these two counts each year. The Orono count produced a list of 48 species, while the Bangor count had 50 species.

Let’s focus on the differences. Bangor had an excellent raptor count, with one Cooper’s hawk, red-tailed hawk, merlin and peregrine falcon to go along with the 13 bald eagles. In Orono, eagles were found along with a Cooper’s hawk, two sharp-shinned hawks and a lingering northern harrier.

In Bangor, six northern mockingbirds were braving the winter. Orono highlights were a fine count of 28 Barrow’s goldeneye and a couple of lingering species (one common loon and two northern mockingbirds). Red-bellied woodpeckers were found on both counts.

Four pine grosbeaks and five pine siskins were found in Bangor, while 105 pine siskins and seven common redpolls were tallied in Orono.

The Schoodic Peninsula count had 50 species. The 137 common loons was an excellent high count. Ten species of waterfowl were found, with the 30 harlequin ducks being the most remarkable.

A black-backed woodpecker was an excellent find. Lingering birds included a belted kingfisher and two yellow-rumped warblers.

Four species of finches were found, with 37 white-winged crossbills and 23 pine siskins representing the irruptive species.

Portland usually has the highest number of species of any CBC in Maine and took pride of place this year with 96 species found by the 47 observers.

Rarities included a greater white-fronted goose, a king eider, two ruddy turnstones and a lark sparrow. Lingering species included double-crested cormorant, black-crowned night heron, black-throated blue warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, field sparrow and Savannah sparrow.

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


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