Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Glossy Ibis in Northern Maine

Sue Young, in southern Aroostook county, has discovered a Glossy Ibis in Hodgdon just south of Houlton. The bird is visiting one of the many huge puddles formed during the recent deluge of rain and snowmelt that hit the county. Sue's birdy puddle is located out on the Lincoln Road right along the Canadian border...The water is literally within 100 feet of Canada.

The bird was first seen on the April 30th but has remained through at least the 3rd of May.

The Glossy Ibis was probing around the margin of the puddle in the company of Canada Geese, Green-winged Teal, Mallards and Ring-billed Gulls. According to Sue, it didn't appreciate the attention she offered and stayed on the far side of the pool when she was trying to photograph it.
Even though it was uncooperative, Sue was able to document the bird well enough to eliminate the possibility of the similar (but much less likely) White-faced Ibis. A White-faced Ibis would show a more...white face(!) and pinkish rather than the gray legs seen on the bird in Sue's pics.

I checked with a few sources and it looks like Sue's ibis is not the first for Aroostook County. On 21 April 2002, Joe McDonald found the county-first ibis just a few miles away in Amity!

The Hodgdon bird does get the distinction of being the northern most record in Maine and the eastern US. The nearest breeding population of Glossy Ibises is 200+ miles to the south at Stratton Island just off the coast of Maine near Scarborough and Old Orchard Beach. Back in the 1980's a Glossy Ibis had a failed nesting attempt on the southern coast of New Brunswick near St. John.

Anyone interesting in looking for the bird shouldn't have much of a problem finding the spot. Sue sent along a great map showing the exact location. The pond is in a private farm field but easily visible from the very quiet Lincoln Road. Stay out of the wet field, even on foot... Birders shouldn't be surprised if they draw the attention of the Border Patrol at this location. There are remotely monitored cameras on the utility poles nearby!

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