The last 3 weeks of spring were just as fabulous (weatherwise) as the earlier months of the season here in Northern Maine. Though the first week of the month was a soggy one, the nearly 3" of rain was needed and the developing greenery sucked up much of the precipitation. Temperatures have been nearly normal for this time of the year.
The breeding season is in full swing and nesting and fledgling birds are everywhere. It appears thus far, that nesting success, for both land and water birds, is as good as its been in four or five years in northern Maine.
Waterfowl highlights in the County this month include the "usual" breeding Redheads (2 pairs), Ruddy Ducks (at least 2 pairs nesting with as many as 12 other probable non-breeders), American Wigeon, Gadwall and Northern Shovelers at Lake Josephine in Easton. Though none of these species have yet to appear with young, the first broods should be leaving the nests here any day. A Eurasian Wigeon drake found here back on 26 May lingered through at least 13 June. Jonathan Mays caught this drake Gadwall on the wing at Easton on the 12th.
A Green-winged Teal hen with 10 just-hatched ducklings was seen on the 19th in a small ponded area just off the Burnt Landing Road in Square Lake Township. The hen put on an impressive distraction display which included flying into a rank stand of tamarack and cedar and landing on the mossy forest floor. I would have liked to watch more but we left the area quickly so she could return to her little fuzzballs.
Also at Lake Josephine a hen Common Goldeneye whose initial clutch numbered 8 on the 10th was tending only four big-but-fuzzy youngsters on the 20th...
A Spruce Grouse hen was seen with chicks in Square Lake Township on the 13th. Jonathan Mays got this nice shot of the little one. Ruffed Grouse too, are showing with chicks in the area.
A rare find this far north, a pair of Green Herons discovered constructing a nest near Lake Josephine on the 20th, was one of the best finds of the month. Thanks to Paul Cyr's photos, this was the northernmost documented nest for the state. American Bitterns are being seen regularly now at Lake Josephine and Christina Reservoir.
Many of the breeding raptors in northern Maine are nearing time to fledge. The Bald eaglet at the Aroostook River nest in Fort Fairfield has been seen exercising its wings and has actually lifted off the nest a few times! This will be first eaglet produced from this nest in many years. Other area eagle nests are also having a productive spring. Paul Cyr also got this shot of the eagles at a nest in Presque Isle.
The young Northern Goshawk at the Nordic Heritage Ski Centre in Presque Isle is ready to fledge as well. I know several mountain bikers who have been eagerly following the progress of this nest, mostly because they are looking forward to the re-opening of the bike trails on this side of the ridge. Merlins nesting in Caribou and Presque Isle were reported to have fledged their young in early June- early dates.
The Common Moorhens have once again returned to Lake Josephine and are apparently settling in to the same pond where they nested last year. First heard on the 6th, the birds have offered some fleeting glimpses since then. Soras and Virginia Rails are very vocal lately. Paul Cyr recently captured these fine portraits of the hard-to-see species.
Though some local Killdeer have produced young already, Wilson's Snipe continue to perform their winnowing displays over swamps in Sinclair and Square Lake. Ken Lamb photographed this leggy Killdeer youngster recently.
25+ Common Terns appear to have begun nesting at the colony on the north end of Long Lake in St. Agatha. There has been no sign of the Black Terns that were seen here in past years.
A species that I completely missed in northern Maine last year, a Black-billed Cuckoo was calling in the Woodland Bog on the afternoon of the 22nd.
American Three-toed Woodpeckers have been showing exceptionally well this month. Pairs have been seen regularly at the Burnt Landing Road in Square Lake and along the Moscovic Road in Stockholm. Others were spotted near Beardsley Brook in New Sweden and off of the Square Lake Road in Cross Lake Township. Black-backed Woodpeckers have also been seen at the Square Lake and Stockholm locations. A Black-backed hatchling's incessant begging gave away its nest location on the edge of a wetland off the McLean Brook Road in Sinclair (T17R4). The little woodpecker(s)? were peering from the nest hole by the 19th and appeared ready to fledge any day. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are busy now and easy to find. Patty Jennings sent along this photo of a pair in her yard
The flycatchers have been well reported this month. Two Olive-side Flycatchers and 5+ Yellow-bellied Flycatchers were heard at the Moscovic Road on the 19th. The young left a Boreal Chickadee nest in Square Lake Township sometime in the afternoon of the 18th or the early morning of the 19th. Though lately it hasn't been unusual to encounter (hear) 15 or 20 of these in a morning in the field, they get significantly quieter once their young have fledged. Rare in northern Maine at any time, 3 or 4 calling Willow Flycatchers have taken up residence on the river flat just across the Aroostook River from the town of Fort Fairfield.
Family groups of Gray Jays are commonly encountered in most of the deep, dark conifer swamps lately. A tally of 16 was made in the morning of the 19th in north-central Aroostook Co.
Though Winter Wrens have begun to sing a bit more lately, a pair of nesting House Wrens in Fort Fairfield is far more noteworthy. At the northern extreme of the breeding range, there have been a few reports of House Wrens nesting in the county, but Kathy Hunter's photo provided the first documentation of the event in this region.
The warblers continue in full song in the wooods of northern Maine. 21 species were tallied here over the weekend. Notables among the list were a pair of Cape May Warblers seen and four singing Mourning Warblers at Loring in Limestone, three male Bay-breasted Warblers at Beardsley brook in New Sweden, 4+ singing Wilson's Warblers along the Moscovic Road and a very vocal Tennessee Warbler on territory along the Burnt Landing Road in Square Lake Twp. Other singing Mourning Warblers were seen along a woods road off of Route 11 south of Masardis on the 12th.
Quite uncommon in the north, an Indigo Bunting seen in the Sherman Station area of Stacyville on the 12th was a noteworthy find
Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated, Savannah, Song, Swamp, Chipping, Lincoln's and Vesper Sparrows were heard singing at Aroostook NWR on the 20th.
With the exception of American Goldfinch and Purple Finch, the finches have been a tough group of birds to find this month. Flyover White-winged Crossbills, an Evening Grosbeak and Pine Siskin were heard at Stockholm on the 19th.