Yearly Archives: 2021

May 12021

Chimney Swift

Today I hit a Maine Big Year milestone . . . Bird #200 . . . a Chimney Swift. Basically a flying cigar, this bird spends most of its life in the air, only landing to roost in chimneys.  They are incapable of perching in trees like other birds but have adapted to clinging to […]

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Apr 292021

Finding the White-faced Ibis

The Glossy Ibis has become a regular summer visitor to the marshes of southern Maine.   Feeding in huge flocks, their redish-black plumage gives off a shimmer in the sun.  The flock in this photo had 197 birds in it. Here is where the fun starts . . . somewhere along the Maine coast, in […]

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Apr 252021

Tricolored Heron

Each summer for the last six years, at least one Tricolored Heron has been seen in the marshes around Portland, Maine. This is unusual as this beautiful blue/gray/purple and white rarely nest north of New Jersey . . . but weird hybrid birds have been seen in the area in subsequent years . . . […]

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Apr 2220211 comment

White-winged Dove in Maine?

Today a White-winged Dove showed up in a residential community in Gardiner, Maine . . . about 1800 miles north of it’s normal stomping grounds in Florida. It was a gray, cold, windy day and even snowed a bit and I really didn’t enjoy the two hours it took me to find the rarity . […]

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Apr 212021

American Bittern

Today Ingrid and I went searching for an American Bittern, a secretive bird of marshes and reeds. I had seen the bird flying at a distance last week but we really wanted an up close photo. For 45 minutes we scanned the marsh with our binoculars … getting closer every time it vocalized (a cartoonish croaking). Finally […]

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Apr 202021

Broad-winged Hawks

Today, Ingrid and I observed a spectacular bird migration as we watched Broad-winged Hawks soaring on thermals as they moved north. Most raptors migrate as individuals, but Broad-wings move in small groups or even large flocks. A Golden Eagle, a very rare state visitor and a pièce de résistance for a Maine Big Year was […]

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Apr 142021

Eastern Meadowlark

Photographed this Eastern Meadowlark today at Kennebunk Plains, a grassland preserve that is one of the rare places in Maine to reliably see this beautiful bird. My friend Kevin Tolan, a researcher, tells me that the population of Meadowlarks in the state is declining at a rate of 7.5% per year, and he doubts this […]

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Apr 142021

Snowy Owl

While looking for early migrants in “downtown” Biddeford Pool, I looked across the channel . . . at the stately homes just a few yards away as the crow flies (but 20 minutes away by car). There, sitting on the edge of a freshly mowed lawn and bunches of spring daffodils was a Snowy Owl. […]

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Apr 112021

Palm Warbler

If you ask birders in Maine what is their favorite family of bird . . . I’d wager on Warblers.  These tiny, colorful, fast moving, bug eaters are often just a few feet away.  Warblers are the highlight of spring migration, somedays the trees and bushes are just dripping with birds. On Thursday I saw […]

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Apr 72021

Cattle Egret

This morning I was driving north on I-95 heading for a reliable spot for early spring Warblers when Ingrid texted me . . . “a Cattle Egret has been seen in Newport, Maine”. Maine is a good 500 miles outside of the Cattle Egret’s range but each year several overshoot and are seen in the […]

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Apr 42021

Vesper Sparrow

This morning I promised Ingrid we could sleep late and have a leisurely breakfast, read the paper and just relax. Then as I took my first sip of coffee, I looked at my phone and saw the words “Maine Rare Bird Alert – Vesper Sparrow – Damariscotta”. Ingrid looked at me and sighed, “this is […]

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Apr 32021

Black-crowned Night-Heron

This morning I was birding in South Portland when I got a text message from Ingrid . . . that a Green Heron was being reported in a residential area of . . . South Portland.  Well that was convenient. Trout Brook Preserve is a small (maybe 200 yards long) wooded park in the middle […]

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Mar 312021

Piping Plover

The Piping Plovers are back on the beaches of Maine. Yesterday on the north end of Wells Beach near the dunes . . . I watched a Bullmastiff playing chuckit catch with his master. The beach is 2 miles long and they decided to play where the endangered species nest each year. Being a coward […]

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Mar 262021

Short-eared Owl

Very excited to see two Short-eared Owls patrolling the runways at the old Brunswick Naval Airstation at dusk this evening. I watched them for over an hour. I really hoped to get one of them to fly in front of the legendary “Fat Boy” Drive-In Sign . . . but the damn birds wouldn’t cooperate. […]

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Mar 252021

Wilson’s Snipe

For at least 150 years, the Snipe Hunt has been a practical joke used by fraternities, summer camps and other organizations.  Newcomers, overwhelmed by their new environments are sent into the woods to capture a non-existent animal called a snipe. When I started birding, I was surprised to learn there really is a family of […]

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Mar 2420212 comments

Black Vulture in Maine

Turkey Vultures are a common three season sight in Maine and in the summer there always seems to one or two patrolling the skies.  They are one of the first migrating birds to return each spring (actually late winter) and one of the last to leave as the weather gets cold.  This past winter we […]

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Mar 142021

Fish Crow

If one looks at Maine eBird checklists . . . you’ll find 47% of them have at least one American Crow . . . and I believe that it’s actually closer to 95% as folks tend to ignore this omnipresent bird. When I go out birding, I almost immediately hear American Crows “caw” sounds and […]

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Mar 122021

Pine Warbler

After two weeks without a new bird, my Maine Big Year is back on track as I’ve been picked up five new birds in the last four days. Today I got a Hermit Thrush and a Pine Warbler, bringing the count to 138. The state record is 317, so there is a long way to […]

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Mar 92021

Great Horned Owl

When a birder hears a flock of Crows, Chickadees or Bluejays screaming and moving rapidly through the trees . . . we drop everything and begin searching for the target of their anger . . . generally a bird of prey. This is called mobbing, a defense mechanism where much smaller birds can drive away […]

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Mar 42021

Barred Owl

This morning another birder and I were standing along a wooded country road scanning a stream that was free of ice . . . hoping to spy the Pied-billed Grebe reported to be lurking along the edge. I glanced across the road and noticed one of those plastic owls that folks place on their roofs […]

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Feb 272021

American Kestrel

When we began planning my Maine Big Year, we always knew there would be quiet times . . . weeks where there were no new birds being seen.  As expected, the end of February has been one such time.  It’s been 5 days since I identified my last new bird and the woods and meadows […]

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Feb 232021

Birding the Maine South Coast

Spent the day birding the State’s south coast starting in Kittery where I could see New Hampshire across the river.  It was windy and overcast which drove birds close to shore and I got some nice photos.   The first advance scout of spring migration arrived today as I saw two Red-winged Blackbirds sitting on […]

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Feb 222021

Winter Birds and then a Surprise

Today was Ingrid’s last day of vacation before she returns to pandemic hybrid teaching . . . so we spent the day birding . . . I’m sure she wishes we could bird for another week. We saw amazing birds . . . dozens of incredible birds . . . but nothing we didn’t expect […]

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Feb 202021

Savannah Sparrows wintering over

Every winter about mid-February the birding slows down here in Maine.  It’s cold, one has seen most of the seasonal birds and reports of rarities seem to stop (cause even the birds are hunkering down to stay warm).  Species that winter in Maine haven’t begun their migration north to their breeding grounds in the Arctic […]

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Feb 162021

Finch Irruption 2020-2021

When Ingrid and I began discussing the my Maine Big Year we realized we should control what we could control: bird knowledge, technology, contacts and accept what we couldn’t control: weather, our health and rarities. Little did we know, but the winter of 2020-2021 would be a “Superflight Year”, he biggest irruption of northern finches and […]

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