Paul Markson, new compiler of the Orono-Old Town Christmas Bird Count, has broken a record! His team, 23 birders and eight feeder watchers, found a record 58 bird species; the previous record was 57.
Unusual birds counted were grackle, savannah sparrow, hooded merganser, chipping sparrow, all late in migrating; an eastern towhee at the edge of its range; and two red-bellied woodpeckers, a species in process of expanding its range.
Nearly every birder found a flock, sometimes several flocks, of white-winged crossbills. Most crossbills were feeding on the seeds of white pine, Maine’s state tree. If you have a sunflower seed feeder, you may see them, eventually, feeding on your sunflower feeder. It takes them awhile to learn that feeders may be a source of food.
If you’re impatient, and want to see them now, look at the tops of pine and spruce trees and look for movement among the cones. Crossbills perch among the cones as they feed, then they go to another tree. After awhile, the whole flock takes off and goes to another grove.
Substantial flocks of goldfinches totaled more than 300 individuals. Their relatives, pine siskins and common redpolls, came in smaller numbers: 18 and 15 respectively.
These species love thistle seed at feeders, and when they haven’t found feeders yet, goldfinches eat goldenrod seeds. Pine siskins eat the seeds of tiny cones — such as hemlocks and larch trees — and redpolls eat the seeds of birch.
Numbers of wild turkeys keep growing every year; birders found a total of 128 turkeys within the 7½-mile radius of the circle in which the Christmas Bird Count is held. A distant parade of turkeys is a treat to see — but not a big flock in one’s backyard!
Those living in Bangor, Brewer, Hampden, Orrington, Winterport and Bucksport who would like to participate in the Bangor-Bucksport Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, Jan. 3, may call the Fields Pond Audubon Center at 989-2591.
Those who would like to obtain a complete list of species may e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy New Year — may birds bring you happiness!
For information on Fields Pond Audubon Center, call 989-2591.