Maine Bird Rarity Round-Up: December 19th-31st
Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the twenties! 2019 has drawn to a close in a flurry of snow and I'm here to summarize the final two weeks of rare birds across Maine as we look forward into 2020.
Christmas Bird Counts continued to turn up unusually late records of familiar species such as blue-headed vireo, barn swallow, gray catbird, Baltimore oriole and yellow-bellied sapsucker here and there but there were few real rarities to get excited about. One that has graced these reports since I started writing them in November is yet another (or is it the same?) yellow-breasted chat that has been present in Portland at the Eastern Promenade and surrounding areas from the 25th to at least the 28th.
The other headline bird, a smart yellow-throated warbler in Ellsworth, was found on the 22nd in a private yard feeding on suet and was still present on January 1st as this review 'goes to print'. Hopefully this dapper individual will survive the low temperatures and continue to add welcome color to the season.
Maybe this yellow theme will continue with a yellow-billed loon? Or maybe a yellow rail? You heard it here first.
Other winter visitors included a scattering of at least 10 northern shrikes across the state, while bohemian waxwings were present in Baxter State Park on the 30th, a golden eagle was at Hatch Hill landfill in Augusta (but see here for details on access) and, my personal highlight from the period, dovekies were present at Biddeford Pool on the 28th and Two Lights State Park on the 29th. I myself spent some time with one of the birds at Two Lights SP as it dived for food just a meter away from the rocks, seemingly oblivious to people admiring it from close by.
Well that just about wraps up 2019! Hopefully 2020 will produce many wonderful birds here in Maine, and the Eco Ornis team will be there to cover them.