Thursday, January 21, 2010
Northern Maine Birds 1-21 January 2010, NHOW Yes
So far January 2010 has been warmer and drier than usual in northern Maine.
By "warmer" I mean that outdoor activities can be conducted comfortably by a properly clothed participant and without danger of loss of extremities.
The first week of the month high temps were running in the 30's F, the second week saw chillier highs in the teens and now we are again running up into the high 20's. Lowest temps for my thermometer in Woodland was -11F on the 14th...Last year at this time, we were setting the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in Maine (-50F)!
While southern Maine and the rest of New England has been getting steady bouts of snow, northern Maine has sat out the last few storms. Only 11 inches of snow has fallen at Caribou this month and about 9 of that fell on the Jan 2 storm. This is well below half of the expected snowfall for this period. About 6 to 12 inches is on the ground.
There are quite a few spots of open water on the swifter sections of streams and rivers.
With ample food supplies and favorable weather, the birds are doing well out in the North Maine Woods this winter. Finch numbers appear to be gradually increasing. Action at feeders varies depending on the reporter.
A large congregation of Common Goldeneyes is being seen in the open water below the Caribou Dam on the Aroostook River in Caribou. My last best count was 42 birds on the 14th. Six Common Mergansers have been seen here sporadically. The large flock of Mallards and American Black Ducks that is wintering at the Presque Isle wastewater plant continues to be harrassed daily by an apparent female Bald Eagle. The flock numbered over 70 ducks during the Christmas Bird Count on the 2nd but recent counts put the number below 55...
Ruffed Grouse have been well reported. Thanks to scanty snow cover, it appears that the Wild Turkeys in the Ashland/Castle Hill area are doing well. This northern-most flock for New England was released by Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in 2008 and 2009. Some Ring-necked Pheasants in Fort Fairfield are likewise enjoying the "open" conditions. Though certainly released birds, these pheasants are noteworthy when encountered this far north. Paul Cyr snapped a pic of two cocks as they made their way through the snowy stubble field on the 7th.
Wintering Bald Eagles have been widely observed in January. In addition to the bird fabulously depicted here in Paul Cyrs recent image, adults have been seen this month in Ashland, Benedicta, Caribou, Fort Fairfield, Frenchville, Island Falls, near Madawaska Lake in T16R4. Three were visiting ice fisherman at Arnold Brook Lake in Presque Isle and another was seen at Long Lake in St. Agatha. Several observers say they have seen more Bald Eagles than usual. Perhaps the abundance of open water (and overwintering ducks?) has allowed more of these birds to spend the winter this year.
A Northern Goshawk was hunting over a feeder in Wade on the 14th.
No gulls have been reported in this area since December.
The Blaine Northern Hawk Owl continues to be seen at the same location it was first found back before Christmas. Most recently, Paul Cyr photographed the bird on the 17th. There has been no further information on the Littleton and Chapman Hawk Owls since the initial reports. A report of a "cute little owl" found recently in a garage in Presque Isle was intriguing... The bird may have been photographed so more info may be forthcoming. A Barred Owl was also seen in Presque Isle on the 20th.
Woodpeckers have begun drumming. As expected Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers's have made up the majority of sightings, Pileated Woodpeckers have made a good showing recently as well.
In the hard-to-find category this winter, a Northern Shrike seen in Houlton on the 9th was noteworthy.
Large flocks of Black-capped Chickadees with smaller numbers of Red-breasted Nuthatches are being encountered in the woods this winter. An apparent abundance of easily foraged natural food has kept these birds from making much of an appearance at feeding stations region wide. Seen above, Tom Johnson was able to tempt at least one nuthatch into his Caribou yard with a handful of peanuts
Yet another aberrant-plumaged Black-capped Chickadee was seen early this month in Mount Chase. Unlike the previously reported melanistic chickadees in Presque Isle, this bird was on the lighter side of things. This leucistic Black-capped was photographed by Tom Sheehan on January 4th.
Rarely found in mid winter most years, Golden-crowned Kinglets have been regularly encountered in small numbers in the woods in central Aroostook county.
The fruit supply has held up well as the roving flocks of Bohemian Waxwings continue to pop up around the area. 60+ were seen on the 20th in Presque Isle.
The only noteworthy sparrow among the scattered sightings of American Tree Sparrows and hordes of Snow Buntings was a White-throated Sparrow visiting a feeder in Wade on the 19th. The dearth of snow cover has allowed large numbers of Snow Buntings to continue foraging weed seeds across the area. As many as 1000+ were seen in single flocks in Mapleton and Presque Isle recently. Paul Cyr photographed a few of the regular flock at his feeding station in Presque Isle
A Common Grackle continues to be seen at a feeder in Presque Isle.
After a slow start, finch numbers are increasing recently.
American Goldfinches are abundant with flocks numbering over one hundred reported at some feeders. Over 90 are regular at my feeders in Woodland. Purple Finches are present in small numbers, being seen in conifer forests with few visiting feeders. There have only been a handful of Pine Siskins reported and NO Redpoll reports thus far this winter.
Increasing numbers of Pine Grosbeaks and White-winged Crossbills are being spotted. Pine Grosbeaks were reported in Caswell, Ashland, Nashville Plantation and Stockholm this week. Small to medium sized flocks (less than 20) White-winged Crossbills were seen along the Beaver Brook Road in T14R5 on the 18th. Evening Grobeaks remain hard to find. Several of the bright yellow birds are visiting a feeder regularly in Castle Hill and one has been seen sporadically at others in Caribou and Portage Lake.
No additional reports have been received regarding the European Goldfinch that was seen in Presque Isle early in the month.