Friday, December 28, 2007

Northern Maine Birds 22-28 December 2007

The weather warmed significantly in the past week in northern Maine and precipitation came in form of a soaking rain on the 23rd and 24th. This settled the snow down to about 18 inches locally and opened up a few holes in the ice on the rivers. Despite the break in the cold weather, the numbers of birds at my feeding station in Woodland seemed to increase again with Grosbeaks dominating

A very late juvie Hooded Merganser on Presque Isle Stream appears determined to linger for the Christmas Bird Count this weekend. Plenty of American Black Ducks and Mallards are keeping it company. In Caribou, a Red-breasted Merganser was reported below the Aroostook River dam mixed in with a dozen or so Common Mergansers and Common Goldeneyes.

There were quite a few Bald Eagles seen this week in central Aroostook County. Locations included Caribou, Easton, Fort Fairfield, Presque Isle and Washburn. Several were squabbling over a Red Fox carcass (including this apparent young female photographed by Paul Cyr) last Friday, the 21st. Rough-legged Hawks were reported from Easton and Westfield. A Red-tailed Hawk was seen in Presque Isle over the weekend. A Cooper’s Hawk continues to be seen in Presque Isle and an apparent Sharp-shinned was seen in Portage Lake over the weekend.

Barred Owls were reported from Fort Fairfield and Presque Isle again this week. Mark Bloomer got this eerie image during a storm a couple of weeks ago as the Barred Owl stalked the Northern Flying Squirrels that frequent his feeders at night.

A pair of vocal Black-backed Woodpeckers were seen on the Ouellette Crossroad in T17R5 near Dickey Brook on the 22nd. Bohemian Waxwings are still finding food and being spotted in small groups this week. Pairs were seen in Mt. Chase, Presque Isle and Woodland and a flock of 40+ were seen in Caribou on the 22nd. The intrepid Tufted Titmouse hangs on in Presque Isle and was present as recently as the 27th.

Both Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches were well reported this week from Caribou, Mapleton, and Presque Isle.

Formerly a rare find in winter in Aroostook County, American Crow flocks are being spotted from Sherman to Fort Kent this year. Groups of 100+ crows were reported near roosting sites in Caribou and Presque Isle this week. 22 were seen in Fort Kent on the 22nd.

A few American Tree Sparrows visiting regularly at my feeders in Woodland and in Caribou, Chapman and Presque Isle. A single male Dark-eyed Junco was not put off by the recent deep snow and persists at a feeder in PI. Snow Bunting flocks were seen in Mapleton, Mt Chase, New Sweden, Patten, Woodland and T17R4 near Cross Lake this week. The larger group seen at Cross Lake on the 22nd was about 70 birds.

Northern Cardinal reports continue to pour in and pairs have been showing now in Fort Fairfield, Caribou (2+ pairs), Mapleton, Mars Hill, and Presque Isle (3+ pairs). Prior to this winter, one or two reports of a cardinal at a local feeder was the norm for the whole season. This year, so far, it seems there are quite a few of the red birds about!

Probably the most exciting find of the week was the discovery of a Rusty Blackbird at a feeding station in Presque Isle. This species is rare enough in summer in northern Maine, but a winter record is probably unprecedented. Paul Cyrs photo shows off the understated beauty of this birds winter plumage. The bird may have been present for several weeks now and was seen through the 27th.

As in the rest of New England, the burgeoning winter finch show continues to draw attention of area birders. The finch highlight this week was a Hoary Redpoll found with 50+ Common Redpolls at a feeder in Mt Chase. Redpoll numbers seem to be increasing this week in the area. Four White-winged Crossbills were spotted gathering grit on a Westmanland Road on the 23rd. American Goldfinches are still being seen in small numbers with reports coming in from Westfield, Caribou and Fort Fairfield. Large mixed flocks of Pine and Evening Grosbeaks are brightening many feeders in the area. These were enjoying some seed in my backyard in Woodland

on Christmas Day.

Presque Isle Christmas Bird Count is Saturday the 29th!


Bill Sheehan
Woodland, Aroostook Co.

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