Monday, February 16, 2009
Northern Maine Birds 1-15 February 2009
Temperatures see-sawed over the first two weeks of February and on eight nights I saw sub-zero temps in my little valley. The National Weather Service recently confirmed the -50 degree temperature recorded at the Big Black River in late January so that becomes Maine's official record lowest temperature ever. The birds have definitely been sticking close to feeders wherever they are available.
With the exception of a bit of rain on the 12th, there hasn't been much precipitation. Snow depth remains at about 2-2.5 feet in the woods in central Aroostook County and 3+ north and west. A few spots of water opened on streams in the area, but otherwise all remains frozen. Ice fishermen are reporting 36+ inches of ice on lakes.
Waterfowl seen so far this month were a dozen each of Mallards and American Black Ducks that are splitting their time at various patches of open water in Presque Isle. Only two hen Common Goldeneyes are left in the water below the Aroostook River dam in Caribou and a single drake goldeneye was seen on the 5th on Presque Isle Stream in PI.
Bald Eagles (adults) were reported from Ashland, Fort Fairfield, Presque Isle and Stockolm. A young Northern Goshawk was seen on the 2nd 3rd and 7th in Caribou. An adult Goshawk was visiting a yard full of birds in another Caribou locale early in the month. A Sharp-shinned Hawk was seen over downtown Presque Isle on the 5th and 13th. Rare in the middle of winter, a Rough-legged Hawk was spotted near the landfill in Limestone on the 9th.
Two first winter Iceland Gulls amongst 30+ Great Black-backed Gulls circling over Caribou on the 9th were a nice surprise . The flock of gulls was the first seen in the area since mid December.
The young male Snowy Owl continues to be seen daily at the intersection of Route 10 and the Cleaves Road in southeast Presque Isle. Ken Lamb got this great flight shot...impressive toenails!
Caribou's overwintering Northern Flicker continued through the period. The bird is surviving on a suet/seed diet and is no doubt, looking forward to warmer days with tasty ants on the menu. Bill Hersey got this shot through his office window this week.
No Pileated Woodpeckers were seen but one was heard drumming in Mars Hill. Downy's and Hairy's were widely reported.
A Northern Shrike, ineffectually chasing Mourning Doves around a feeder in Caribou on the 6th, was the only one reported. Two Gray Jays were regular visitors to a feeder at Madawaska Lake in T16R5.
Blue Jays continue to be seen in large numbers across the area. Mary Collishaw sent along this fun shot from north Caribou.
In addition to the usual horde of Black-cappeds, a Boreal Chickadee was seen at a feeder in St David in Madawaska on the 8th. Both varieties of nuthatches were reported in low numbers. Always uncommon in northern Maine, a Brown Creeper was a noteworthy visitor at a yard in Presque Isle in late January.
Small flocks of Bohemian Waxwings were seen on 8th and 14th in Presque Isle. More Northern Cardinal reports came in this week. 2 females were visiting feeders at an intown location in Caribou on the 6th, a male continues at a feeder in rural Caribou and another female was seen in a yard in Presque Isle.
The overwintering White-throated Sparrow continued to show up intermittently at my feeders in Woodland. I last spied the bird on Valentines Day. Small groups of American Tree Sparrows were part of most reports recieved in the past two weeks. The huge flock of Snow Buntings continues at a feedlot on Route 1A in Easton. 1,000+ were counted here as recently as the 13th. At least one Lapland Longspur also continues amongst the Easton Snow Buntings.
Snow Buntings were also seen in Caribou, Chapman, Presque Isle and Fort Fairfield. An ermine was reported to have made an unsuccessful try to catch a Snow Bunting last week at a feeder in Caribou. Dark-eyed Juncos are usually quite uncommon in northern Maine in all but the most snow-less winters. However, a few are still being seen this winter in Aroostook county: reports of single birds this week came from Linneus and Presque Isle.
Pine Grosbeaks continue to be one of the more commonly reported species. Flocks numbering up into the mid 20's were visiting yards in Stockholm, Caribou, Portage Lake, Chapman, Mapleton, Mars Hill, Presque Isle, Westfield and Woodland. Craig Robinson captured the Pine Grosbeak image at the top of this post just before a wild snow squall hit. Patty Jennings got this great action shot in her yard in Stacyville. Evening Grosbeaks were less widely reported with small groups and singles noted in Island Falls, Linneus, New Sweden, Presque Isle and Caribou. Twenty six are visiting my feeders in Woodland.
Pine Siskins appeared in numbers across the area over the last two weeks. Large flocks (50+) are cleaning out feeders in Presque Isle and Caribou. Common Redpolls and American Goldfinches are also being seen in numbers but their distribution remains spotty. 12 White-winged Crossbills were in Woodland on the 14th and single female is coming to a feeder in Chapman. A rare find this far north, a female House Finch was photographed in Presque Isle.
Also rare in northern Maine, a small flock of House Sparrows was working the parking lot at McDonalds in Presque Isle.