Thursday, February 14, 2008

Northern Maine Birds 31 Jan-13 Feb 2008

There appears to be no end in sight of the harsh weather northern Maine is experiencing this winter.

Snow fell in Caribou on eleven of the past 14 days,... three feet in the first half of February. Well over TEN feet of snow has now fallen here this season and the Caribou Office of the National Weather Service says we're on track to break the record for snow fall before it all ends. Temperatures have averaged slightly below normal, which means it has regularly dipped below zero over the past two weeks. There remains very little open water.

Another somewhat-dependable indicator of this winter's severity: my mailbox was flattened on Wednesday by the snow plow truck... for the fourth time this winter. A new season high record.

Bird-wise there have been no pronounced changes except for an apparent increase in the numbers of Common Redpolls in the area.

A few Common Goldeneyes and Common Mergansers continue to hang on at the dam in Caribou despite the ever decreasing pool of open water. Likewise the flock of Mallards and Black Ducks at Presque Isle is shrinking apparently due to regular visits by Bald Eagles.

The accipiters were well represented in the past week. A Northern Goshawk was reported from Westfield on Sunday the 10th. A Coopers Hawk was seen again this week in Presque Isle. A Sharp-shinned Hawk visited another location here.

Ruffed Grouse were mentioned for the first time in a while. One is visiting an in-town yard in Presque Isle and another burst from a roosting spot under the snow were it had spent a cold night.

Pileated Woodpeckers showed well over the past two weeks. The big birds were spotted in Caribou, Fort Fairfield, Mars Hill, Mt Chase Presque Isle, Westfield and Woodland. Alice Sheppard photographed this female that has been at her suet blocks daily. At least 5 Hairy and 4 Downy Woodpeckers are coming for the suet and seeds at my feeders in Woodland.

The first Golden-crowned Kinglets reported in central Aroostook in a while were seen at the Nordic Heritage Center ski trails in Presque Isle on the 1st. Four Bohemian Waxwings discovered some crabapples near Barren Lake in Caribou and were feeding on them in the chilly pre-dawn on the 8th.

The hardy Tufted Titmouse persists at its northern outpost in Presque Isle. The titmouse has been frequenting the yard since November. Some birders have noted the high counts of chickadees coming into feeders in the area. I estimated 40+ Black-cappeds in my yard today and I had a Boreal Chickadee feeding here on the first and second, but not since. Red-breasted Nuthatches have been widely reported and White-breasted Nuthatches were regular at feeders in Presque Isle, Chapman and Caribou. The Brown Creeper still shows intermittently in my yard.

Two Gray Jays were seen here dependably from the 1st through the 8th. A male Northern Cardinal remains regular at a Caribou feeder. Several reporters responded to my recent fretting over Mourning Dove declines and said the flocks at their locations were fine. A high count of 17 was reported at a Caribou yard. Ken Lamb took the top photo of one of his doves in Chapman late last month.

A high count of 6 American Tree Sparrows is the best I could gather by keeping the ground under my feeders snow free. The dropped seed that was tossed out in the yard by the snowblower has attracted a small gathering of seven Snow Buntings. Good yard birds! Counts of four and six Dark-eyed Juncos were the most recent tallys at feeders located in Caribou and Presque Isle respectively.

The female Rusty Blackbird continues its bid to successfully overwinter at its Presque Isle location. The bird sat for a photo session with Paul Cyr on the 12th. European Starlings in Mars Hill were heard warming up their repertoire of amorous vocalizations just in time for Valentines Day.

Pine Grosbeaks continue at many area feeders. Flocks were reported in Ashland, Caribou, Fort Fairfield, Portage Lake, Presque Isle and Woodland. The Evening Grosbeak flock here at my feeder has swelled a bit to about 80 birds now. Evening Grosbeaks are also being seen in Caribou Presque Isle, Westfield and Portage Lake.

As earlier mentioned Common Redpolls seemed to increase in numbers and distribution during the first half of February. Flocks of 20+ birds are regular at 3 locations in Fort Fairfield, 2 locations in Presque Isle, Houlton, Caribou, Chapman and New Sweden. Smaller sized flocks were reported in Castle Hill, Easton and Woodland. Ten year old, Kendra Coffin of Caribou snapped this picture of some redpolls associating with an attractive crowd of Pine Grosbeaks and a male Cardinal at her feeder. A few Pine Siskins are showing themselves in Caribou and Presque Isle. Rare north of Bangor, House Finches were reported at a Caribou feeder.


Sandpiper said...

Wow! That's a lot of snow. My brother lives in Maine, along the coastline. I wonder how much snow he has.

You have an interesting blog and some great pictures on the site. Fantastic shot of the Dove, Rusty BB, Pileated, Redpoll, Towhee... oh why even list them? They're ALL GOOD!!


Bill Sheehan said...

I tend to obsess a bit about the snow...its been a big part of my life this winter. Planning around it and spending hours moving it out of my driveway and off the paths to my feeders. Lately I've spent more time moving snow than birding.

Thanks for the praise of the photos. I wish I could claim them but most of the pictures here are taken by my friends. They are sharp observers and talented photographers!

John Theberge said...

Hey Bill, I just discovered your blog through a link on Sandpipers blog; very intersting. I'm a fellow Maine photographer but I'm in the southern part of the state and like you, I'm tired of moving snow this winter, we've had a lot of it down here too. I enjoyed the bird photos you have posted.

Sandpiper said...

I don't live as far north as you (in Connecticut), but I'm ready for spring! I woke up this morning to a wintry white world, so wishing isn't getting me anywhere. ;-)

Bill Sheehan said...

I hear that Red-winged Blackbirds have reached southern-most Maine John. hang in there. Glad you like the photos, we are lucky to have so many good nature photographers in Maine.