Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Presque Isle, Maine Christmas Bird Count 29 December 2007

Despite the snow that fell for most of the day on Saturday, the 2007 Presque Isle Christmas Bird Count broke a couple of records and produced some noteworthy finds.

As expected on a day of less-than-ideal weather, the number of individual birds found in the count circle was lower than the past few years totals. However we managed to tally 35 species which wasn’t too shabby for this northern count. (The average species count for the past eight years is exactly 35 species).

The conditions this year were tough for the birds and the birders. The snow was nearly two feet deep in fields and woods and most water was frozen. Natural food sources were very limited with almost no cones, seeds buried in deep snow and very few berries or small fruit left after the waxwing onslaught earlier this fall. Field observers noted that the woods and fields were very quiet and most of the birds were found around yards with feeders.

New high tallys were made for Mallard and Rock Pigeon this year…ugh. The pigeon’s numbers were almost twice the previous high count. Despite some bold predictions, the Pine Grosbeak numbers were just a bit shy of the record set back in 1987.

The big news of the day was THREE species seen for the first time ever this count. Two staked-out birds: a Rusty Blackbird and a Tufted Titmouse, obligingly lingered long enough to be counted. In addition, a count-first Hoary Redpoll serendipitously showed up at the same feeder as the Titmouse. This was a nice surprise indeed.

If that wasn’t enough, this yard also produced the Presque Isle count’s second-ever Cooper’s Hawk. The hawk buzzed through the yard, as if on cue, while the local television crew was filming the titmouse for news piece on the Christmas Bird Count. The camera man did an impressive job of quickly getting the camera on the streaking accipiter and, it too, made the evening news!

Other notables included the rare Aroostook winterers: Brown Creeper, American Robin and Hooded Merganser. Two Northern Shrikes and three Bald Eagles were also nice finds.

Remarkable in their absence were waxwings of any sort, Purple Finches and Pine Siskins. Common Redpoll numbers were surprisingly low for an “on” year and nowhere near the numbers being tallied on counts to the south. Only a single American Goldfinch was found.

The preliminary numbers:

Mallard 39

American Black Duck 46

Hooded Merganser 1

Ruffed Grouse 3

Bald Eagle 3

Cooper’s Hawk 1

Great Black-backed Gull 1

Mourning Dove 90

Rock Pigeon 617

Downy Woodpecker 4

Hairy Woodpecker 18

Pileated Woodpecker 3

Northern Shrike 2

Blue Jay 40

Common Raven 139

American Crow 138

Black-capped Chickadee 333

Tufted Titmouse 1

Red-breasted Nuthatch 9

White-breasted Nuthatch 2

Brown Creeper 1

European Starling 292

American Robin 1

Northern Cardinal 1

American Tree Sparrow 3

White-throated Sparrow 2

Dark-eyed Junco 6

Snow Bunting 223

Rusty Blackbird 1

Pine Grosbeak 148

Hoary Redpoll 1

Common Redpoll 79

American Goldfinch 1

Evening Grosbeak 25

House Sparrow 19

Total Species 35

Total Individuals 2264

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