Roger Tory Peterson once quipped that birds have wings and they use them. One of the thrills of birding is seeing birds that are passing through or lost. A vagrant bird can spice up a daily bird list.

We are accustomed to seeking out rarities during the concentrated spring migration or the more leisurely fall migration, from August into November. In June, most birds should be on their breeding grounds.

Contrary to this logic, June brought some remarkable rare birds to Maine this year. On June 7, a burrowing owl was photographed near the Katahdin Inn in York. At this time of year, burrowing owls should be in the western half of temperate North America, nesting in abandoned prairie dog burrows on the plains. There is also a disjunct population in Florida.

Unfortunately, the owl was a one-day wonder. If accepted by the Maine Bird Records Committee (MBRC), this bird will be only the second ever found in Maine. The first burrowing owl lingered for over a month in late summer of 2006 in Washington County.

On June 9, an apparent drake king eider was seen off Potts Point in South Harpswell. The written description and fuzzy photographs (taken from a distance) support the identification. These birds breed in the high Arctic; an adult male in Maine in June is peculiar, indeed.

On June 12, a magnificent frigatebird was photographed while perched on Stratton Island and seen later that day from Prouts Neck, as well as Pine Point. The bird couldn’t be relocated the following day. The MBRC lists eight records of this tropical species in Maine, none of which have been reviewed.

A magnificent frigatebird was seen off Salisbury Beach on the north shore of Massachusetts on June 14. Perhaps it was the same bird that was found in Maine.

In an amazing contrast, a snowy owl was photographed June 13 in a driveway in Freeport, near Hedgehog Mountain Park. Snowy owls should be nesting on the Arctic tundra at this time of year. Normally, more than 2,000 miles separate frigatebirds and snowy owls in June.

Why not add some western vagrants to the mix? On June 13, a snowy plover was found with piping plovers at Reid State Park. If accepted by the MBRC, the snowy plover will be an addition to the official Maine bird list.

On the same day, a Townsend’s solitaire was photographed in Whitneyville. Townsend’s solitaires wander regularly to eastern North America, but a June sighting is quite unusual.

And the hits kept on coming. On June 20, a brown pelican was photographed off Prouts Neck Yacht Club. The bird was seen regularly through June 23 by many birders. It split its time among Prouts Neck, Stratton Island, Bluffs Island and Pine Point.

The plumage and the presence of a pale stripe on the lower part of the throat pouch indicate this bird was in its second year of life.

The MBRC lists one accepted record for brown pelican in the state, a bird seen June 16 in Harpswell. Four older records from 1826, 1914 (two records) and 1922 have yet to be reviewed by the MBRC.

Despite diligent searching on June 24, the pelican could not be located in Maine, but a brown pelican was seen in Rye, New Hampshire. This bird was also a second-year bird and may well have been the same bird seen in Maine. Two additional brown pelicans were reported from Salisbury Beach in Massachusetts.

New Hampshire birders enjoyed the first record of another tropical vagrant found at Cobbett’s Pond in Windham. Here’s a remarkable YouTube video of this delightful bird at

The species is normally found no farther north than the Caribbean.

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

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