Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Northern Maine Birds 28 Feb-11 March 2008

I'll be away (spending a couple days skiing in Baxter State Park) this week, so thought I'd get a report out a bit early.

Winter's kept a firm grip on northern Maine so far this March. Temperatures continue to run below normal, almost all water is frozen and another 2 feet of snow have fallen in the first 10 days of the month. As a matter of fact, the meteorologists say fourteen FEET of the white stuff has landed in central Aroostook this winter. Only about 13 inches to the total snowfall record...great....

Needless to say, there is little change to report in the numbers or diversity of birds. Generally, a trend towards increasing numbers of American Crows and less Pine and Evening Grosbeaks was noted by several reporters.

Two Hooded Mergansers photographed by Ken Lamb on Arnold Brook in Presque Isle may have been over-winterers rather than early migrants. The birds were photographed on the 28th but had been seen at this location for almost a month. Mallards and American Black Ducks continue in Presque Isle stream in PI. Since the Aroostook River has almost completely frozen over at the Caribou Dam, no Common Goldeneyes or Mergansers have been seen here in over a week.

An apparent Sharp-shinned Hawk was photographed by Russ Mount in Castle Hill on the 2nd following a big snowstorm. The hawk was attracted to a good sized collection of Pine Grosbeaks, Mourning Doves and Common Redpolls at a feeder here. Bald Eagles have been seen recently adding sticks to the nest on the Aroostook River in the Stevensville section of Fort Fairfield.

A Snowy Owl was reported at an in-town location in Presque Isle on the 1st.

Also in Castle Hill, a Common Raven pair has been observed constructing a nest in a dense stand of mature spruce trees. As previously noted, the number of American Crow arrivals continues to increase.

Blue Jays are increasingly vocal.

Over fifty Bohemian Waxwings were seen in Mount Chase on the 10th. The Northern Shrike continues to thin the chickadee flock at my yard in Woodland.

Paul Cyr found a gorgeous male Pileated Woodpecker excavating a hole in Presque Isle on the 8th and was kind enough to share what he saw.

This has been an exceptional winter for Northern Cardinal reports in Aroostook County with as many as a dozen different birds being reported from around the region. Again, this week, we hear of these birds in Caribou, Houlton, Island Falls, Fort Fairfield and Presque Isle. Ted Roberts recently snapped a picture of this brilliant male wallowing in the snow with a group of Mourning Doves in Presque Isle

Small Snow Bunting flocks have been reported regularly from throughout the region, with larger flocks being seen in the vicinities of feedlots and horse barns (Oakfield, Fort Fairfield, Woodland). I imagine with 3+ feet of snow in the fields that its difficult to find seeds elsewhere. I suspect if the snow cover continues for more than few more weeks, we may find an abundance of migrating sparrows visiting our feeders by necessity.

On a sad note, the intrepid Eastern Towhee that was overwintering in Sherman was killed by a neighbor's cat on the 28th.

Pine and Evening Grosbeaks are still widespread. In Bancroft, a Pine Grosbeak flock grew to its greatest numbers of the season (20+), but overall numbers continue to drop a bit. A nearly all white (leucistic) Pine Grosbeak was photographed in Fort Fairfield on the 2nd (See previous post).

A few American Goldfinches (Presque Isle, Fort Fairfield) and Pine Siskins (Presque Isle) were reported this week. Common Redpolls seem to be conducting guerrilla-style raids on unattended thistle feeders around the area. One observer said their long-neglected feed sock was emptied in a single day but that the flock did not return once it was refilled. I wonder if these are not flocks on the move.

We should have some migrants to talk about next time!


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Sandpiper said...

Great post! It sounds like you've had quite a winter up there, but you've certainly had some good sightings. Too bad about the Towhee.

Have a good time at Baxter!