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.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Northern Maine Birds 6-21 December 2007

The last couple of weeks have been colder and snowier than normal by far. Snow depths continue to be ~3 feet in most sheltered areas and deeper in some of the woodlots downwind of fields. It has snowed on 15 of the first 20 days of December and temps have regularly dipped below zero at night….Caribou received 17+ inches of new snow with last weekend’s wild storm. I can’t wait for winter to start… on the calendar.

Open water is quite limited now (mostly below dams).

The only waterfowl seen in central Aroostook were 60+ American Black Ducks and Mallards in Presque Isle Stream near the wastewater treatment plant and a handful of Common Golden-eyes and Common Mergansers below the Aroostook River dam in Caribou.

Bald Eagles were seen in Presque Isle, Easton, Fort Fairfield and Caribou. Rough-legged Hawks were seen in Fort Fairfield and Easton. An uncommon brown-type, dark phase was photographed on the Aroostook River bridge in Fort Fairfield on the 8th. Rare for northern Maine, a Coopers Hawk has been visiting yards with feeders in Presque Isle.

A few Great Black-backed Gulls lingered in Fort Fairfield through at least the 15th

A count of 20+ Mourning Doves were reported from a feeder in Presque Isle following the storm on the 16th and 17th. Other larger-than-usual flocks were seen in Mapleton and Washburn. Owl reports continue with the season’s first Snowy Owl that was unfortunately struck by a vehicle in Presque Isle on the 10th. A hunting Northern Hawk Owl was reported from the Christina Reservoir area in Fort Fairfield on Wednesday, but has not been relocated since. A Barred Owl was hunting in the sunny afternoon on the 21st in Presque Isle when Paul Cyr photographed it. The widespread reports of Barred Owls being seen in the daylight hours in Maine this winter has some people thinking these birds are having a tough winter already and they are stressed and hungry enough to come out in daylight.

Three Pileated Woodpeckers were feeding simultaneously on a single tree trunk near Madawaska Lake in T16R4 on the 15th. Others were reported from Easton, Castle Hill and Mapleton. Drumming Hairy Woodpeckers were heard in Mt Chase.

A late American Robin was nibbling apples in Presque Isle on the 9th. Only a couple of Bohemian Waxwings were reported in the area this week. The small flock was seen in Mt Chase. These too, were chipping away at larger frozen apples now that most of the smaller fruits have been eaten.

The rare Tufted Titmouse continued to show up at the feeder in Presque Isle where its been seen for over a month.

Alice Sheppard got this nice photo of the bird. Boreal Chickadees were heard in Woodland on the 15th.

There are still plenty of American Crows being reported from around the area. Some Common Ravens appear to acting a bit more territorial lately with a few aerial squabbles noted. Paul’s game camera captured this well behaved group late last week. A Northern Shrike was seen along the interstate in Oakfield on the 18th.

Unusual anytime of year, but exceptional in winter was a Field Sparrow reported at a feeder in Presque Isle. Large flocks of Snow Buntings continue to be seen in northern and central Aroostook County. A few lingering Dark-eyed Juncos and American Tree Sparrows have also been seen in Woodland, Caribou and Presque Isle.

Northern Cardinal reports continue from several locations including Caribou (3+), Houlton (1) Mapleton(1) and Presque Isle (2). Tom and Theresa Johnson photographed this female at a feeder in Caribou.

Pine and Evening Grosbeaks are still being seen daily in central and southern Aroostook. Common Redpolls have only been reported in single digit numbers recently and may be departing the area. American Goldfinches have likewise been seen in small numbers. No other finch species were reported.

The Presque Isle Christmas Bird count is Saturday December 29th!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Northern Maine Birds 21 Nov-5 Dec 2007

There has been alot of traffic reported at northern Maine feeding stations this week. Snow depths in the region now range between eighteen to thirty inches following the Monday night storm. Most lakes are entirely ice covered and only the swifter places on area streams are ice free. The larger rivers St. John and Aroostook still have plenty of open water but the slower stretches are becoming ice-choked. Temps have ranged from single digits to mid thirties over the past week.
A bit of an ice storm was experienced in some higher locations in Aroostook Co. in late November. Some observers thought the ice might have covered some natural food causing an increase in bird numbers at feeders . The small fruit (berries, cherries and small crabapple) supply is getting quite sparse in some spots thanks to all the Waxwings and Pine Grosbeaks.
Waterfowl numbers have dwindled quickly over the past two weeks. Most Canada Geese had departed shortly after Thanksgiving. Mallards, American Black Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, and Common and Hooded Mergansers continue to be seen on the remaining open water. 3 Common Loons were found at Long Lake in St. Agatha on the 24th.
An adult Northern Goshawk unsuccessfully chased some Pine Grosbeaks around my yard in Woodland on Dec 2nd. Light phase Rough-legged Hawks were seen in St Agatha on the 24th and in Presque Isle on the 28th. A few Bald Eagles were also reported.
A Barred Owl was seen in Woodland several times last week. The male Three-toed Woodpecker was seen at the usual spot on the Muscovic Road in Stockholm on the 24th. The bird was drumming and excavating a cavity. On the 27th few Horned Larks were feeding in association with a flock of several hundred Snow Buntings on the Waddell Road in Mapleton. In central Aroostook county, decreasing numbers of Bohemian Waxwings were noted as the preferred fruit supply was almost exhausted
A very rare Tufted Titmouse continues into its second month at a feeder on Canterbury Street in Presque Isle. A couple reporters noted increasing Black-capped Chickadee numbers at area feeders in the past week. A Boreal Chickadee made a short visit to my yard on Sunday before storm. The bird only momentarily checked over the suet feeder then moved on.
Unusual for winter, a large flock of American Crows remains in the Presque Isle area. The black horde was photographed by Paul Cyr's game camera mounted at feeder late last week. Gray Jays were seen in Easton, Woodland and Sinclair this week.
Also uncommon in northern Maine, Northern Cardinals were seen in Caribou and Presque Isle this week. Trina Coffin got this nice photo of a male cardinal at her feeder. Other than the fore-mentioned Snow Buntings, the only members of the sparrow family reported recently were Dark-eyed Juncoes, American Tree Sparrows and a couple of reluctant-to-leave White-throated Sparrows at feeders in Caribou and Presque Isle. A young Red-winged Blackbird huddled under my feeder on the 5th was the latest I've ever had.
Many observers reported increasing numbers of Pine Grosbeaks over the past week. Flocks were seen in Ashland, Caribou, Chapman, Fort Fairfield, Presque Isle, Westfield and Woodland. Evening Grosbeaks are making a good showing as well, with flocks reported from Caribou, Portage Lake, Presque Isle and Woodland. Common Redpoll numbers increased but Pine Siskin numbers remain low. There was only a single report each of American Goldfinch and Purple Finch in the area this week.