Eight Northern Cardinals were counted, signifying the expanding range of this species into higher elevations in Maine. Seventeen American Robins were present.

For the Birds: Maine Christmas Bird Count Highlights III

The Biddeford Kennebunkport CBC held on December 30 yielded 93 species. Waterfowl diversity was extraordinary with 18 species found, including a Snow Goose, 13 Brant, two Gadwall and two Ruddy Ducks. Eight species of diurnal raptors included Merlin and Peregrine Falcon. A Dovekie was a highlight. Other noteworthy finds were singletons of the following species: Yellow breasted Chat, Dickcissel and White crowned Sparrow.

Finding songbirds in inclement weather is even tougher than finding waterbirds. Not surprisingly, the Eastport counters found modest numbers of landbirds. For anyone who has birded in this part of Maine, the counts of the following species will be unrepresentative of actual abundance: one Common Raven, 58 Black capped Chickadees, one Red breasted Nuthatch and 46 American Goldfinches. Researchers using the CBC data to gauge changes in population numbers clearly must take the weather on count days into consideration.

Let's start with the three counts that experience the coldest winter weather of all the CBC's in Maine. The Rangeley Count, held on December 17, produced a total of 34 species. Because of the unseasonably warm weather in November and December, ice had not formed over most bodies of water. The open water held six Common Loons and 59 Mallards.

The December 18 York CBC produced a total of 74 species. Highlights were a Pacific Loon, a pair of Mute Swans, 16 Dovekies, 71 Razorbills and four Red bellied Woodpeckers. Notable songbirds included 25 Horned Larks, four Carolina Wrens, a Rub crowned Kinglet, 26 Eastern Bluebirds and six American Pipits.

We'll end with some more coastal CBC's. The Machias Bay CBC, held on January 3, produced a list of 54 species. Thirteen species of waterfowl were found with a single Barrow's Goldeneye being the most notable. Lingering birds included a Great Blue Heron, a Northern Flicker and 112 American Robins. Gray Jays occur predictably in the coastal spruce fir forests of Maine from Mt. Desert Island eastward. Two Grays Jays were delightful but not unexpected. One Northern Cardinal was a noteworthy sighting. The only northern finch was a single Red Crossbill.

The Bath Brunswick CBC, also held on December 16, resulted in a total of 83 species. Surprisingly late birds included eight Great Blue Herons, a Turkey Vulture and an American Kestrel. A Black headed Gull and 169 Black legged Kittiwakes headed the total of six gull species. A total of 169 Razorbills was notably high.

Yet one more December 16 count, the Mt. Desert CBC, yielded 63 species. Fifteen species of waterfowl were sighted along with two hybrid ducks. One, a Mallard x American Black Duck hybrid, occurs quite commonly and is certainly underreported. In fact, some waterfowl biologist fear that American Black Ducks are being genetically swamped by interbreeding with the far more common Mallards. But the other hybrid on this CBC is quite remarkable, a Common Goldeneye x Hooded Merganser.

We'll start with the excellent Portland CBC, conducted on December 16. A new record for total species was set this year: 105 species. One of the highlights of the count was the 26 species of waterfowl. Three species of geese (Snow Goose, Brant and the expected Canada Goose) was noteworthy. Other unusual waterfowl included a lingering Wood Duck, a pair of Gadwall and a single Barrow's Goldeneye among 282 Common Goldeneyes. Four of the five species of Maine bay ducks (the genus Aythya) were found: Canvasback, Ring necked Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup.

Lingering songbirds included a pair of Hermit Thrushes, 27 Eastern Bluebirds, a Gray Catbird and a Red winged Blackbird. Orange crowned Warblers stray to Maine on occasion; one was found on the Portland CBC.

[Originally published on February 3, 2007]

This column is the last of three on the results of the National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Counts (CBC's, for short) conducted throughout the state of Maine. Each count could be conducted on any day between December 15 and January 5.

2007 March 29 Maine Birds

The Presque Isle CBC, held on December 30, produced at least 32 species (I don't have the final totals yet). The highlight was an Eastern Towhee, the first ever recorded for this count. Towhees are quite rare in the northern half of the state at any time of the year. Two Black backed Woodpeckers were nice finds. No doubt owing to the warm early winter weather, new high counts of Common Goldeneyes and Golden crowned Kinglets were set.

The cone crops this year, particularly for red spruce, are heavy. Winter finches, which wander broadly in the winter abundant cones, put in a modest appearance with 65 White winged Crossbills, 80 Pine Siskins and 87 Purple Finches.

For the Birds Christmas Bird Counts II

Areas like Rangeley provide great habitat for boreal bird species. Those species did not disappoint this year as nine Boreal Chickadees were found along with 235 Black capped Chickadees. Twenty six Gray Jays made for an impressive total. Red breasted Nuthatches tend to occur in coniferous forest while White breasted Nuthatches are more often associated with deciduous or mixed forest. The conifers of the Rangeley area yielded 78 Red breasted Nuthatches but only 3 White breasteds.

It's always interesting to compare the Orono Old Town (December 16) and the Bangor CBC (December 30) because of their nearly overlapping locations. Counters on the Orono Old Town CBC found 49 species. Notable birds included a Rough legged Hawk, a Merlin, an Iceland Gull, two Northern Shrikes, four Bohemian Waxwings (very rare in the state so far this winter), three Red Crossbills, 20 White winged Crossbills and 34 Pine Siskins. The 48 Tufted Titmice indicate that this species is continuing to expand its range northward in Maine. Lingering birds included a Belted Kingfisher, a Northern Flicker and 13 American Robins. A Carolina Wren was a nice find. The Bangor CBC yielded 50 species, with an interesting mix of birds of northern and southern affinity. Highlights were singleton Bonaparte's and Iceland Discount Women Canada Goose Whistler Parka Berry Singapore gulls, a Red bellied Woodpecker, a Carolina Wren, a Northern Mockingbird, a new count record 101 Northern Cardinals, 10 Red Crossbills and 11 Common Redpolls. Seventy one Tufted Titmice were impressive.

The December 26 Eastport CBC count provides a dramatic case of how weather can affect a bird count. The weather on Count Day was hardly conductive to birding: temperatures in the 30's with gusty winds and driving rain. Only three intrepid counters participated this time. Despite the poor visibility and the difficulty in hearing birds, the Eastport counters tallied 40 species. Three Double crested Cormorants were found along with the more expected 30 Great Cormorants. Four Northern Gannets were a nice find. Only five Bald Eagles were counted this year; two years ago counters found 111 of these birds of prey.

This column is the second of three on the results of the National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Counts (CBC's, for short) conducted throughout the state of Maine. Each count could be conducted on any day between December 15 and January 5.

Only eight Bonaparte's Gulls and two Black legged Kittiwakes were found this year. Normally, these birds occur in the thousands in the rapidly moving water between Eastport and Campobello Island. The only alcids found were a pair of Black Guillemots.

Very few Maine CBC's can boast of two species of wrens. Bath Brunswick counters found a single Marsh Wren and Carolina Wren. Snow Buntings and Common Redpolls have not appeared in significant numbers this winter in Maine. Single individuals were found for both species.

Discount Women Canada Goose Whistler Parka Berry Singapore

Other notable birds included a late Great Blue Heron and a Glaucous Gull. Raptor highlights were two Peregrine Falcons and two Snowy Owls. Songbird highlights included an American Robin, a Pine Warbler to go along with the four Yellow rumped Warblers, a Fox Sparrow and a fine count of 31 White winged Crossbills.

The North Penobscot Bay CBC held on December 30 had a total of 59 species. This portion of the coast is one of the most reliable in the state for Ruddy Ducks in the winter and the 107 tallied this year did not disappoint. The four Barrow's Goldeneyes were expected but fewer than expected. A nice list of lingering birds included a Carolina Wren, five American Robins, five Northern Mockingbirds, two Swamp Sparrows and a Brown headed Cowbird. A Yellow breasted Chat was an extraordinary find. Six Red Crossbills were notable as well.

Other highlights of the count were a Pacific Loon, a Greater Shearwater, three Turkey Vultures, and a Virginia Rail. Five Dovekies made a nice addition to the more expected alcids, Razorbills and Black Guillemots. Eight species of diurnal birds of prey included five Northern Harriers , two Merlins and three Peregrine Falcons.

Three birders flew to Matinicus Island on January 5 to conduct a CBC there. A total of 38 species were tallied. Notable species included two lingering Northern Flickers, 29 Yellow rumped Warblers, two Swamp Sparrows, eight Red Crossbills and 31 White winged Crossbills. The counters found 31 European Starlings, a reminder that this introduced species has remarkable colonizing abilities.

The Misery CBC, centered in the town of Forks, was held on December 29. A total of 25 species was found. As at Rangeley, Northern Cardinals were found on the Misery CBC this year. Boreal species included five Gray Jays, 11 Boreal Chickadees, 48 Purple Finches, 17 Red Crossbills, 55 White winged Crossbills and 70 Pine Siskins.