Maine Shorebirds

From the south coast of Maine to the Mid-Coast, shorebirds were on the move these last two weekends. Fall migration is well underway and shorebird numbers are not disappointing. (This is a double post for last Saturday along the south coast and this Saturday along the Mid-Coast.)

Last weekend, we visited Goose Rocks Beach, Granite Point and Pine Point to observe the “peeps”. The highlight of the trip was the sighting of a Western Willet, which happen to land a few feet from where I was standing at the Lobster Co-op.

We watched a pair of juvenile Green Herons take turns atanding on a wire out on Granite Point. Also at this location, Northern Harriers were searching the marsh for food, as were Osprey and an immature Bald Eagle.

Goose Rocks Beach held its fair share of shorebirds, but as it was dead low tide while we were there, counts were difficult as the birds were fairly far out on the mudflats.

I have misplaced the list of birds we observed last Saturday morning. Hopefully I’ll find it and amend this post at a later time. In the mean time, enjoy the following pictures from last Saturdays bird watching trip to the south coast of Maine.

Double-Crested Cormorant - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Great Egret - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Great Egret - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.
Great Egret - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Green Heron - Granite Point - Biddeford, Maine. Green Heron - Granite Point - Biddeford, Maine.
Juvenile Piping Plover - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Juvenile Piping Plover - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Short-Billed Dowitcher - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine.
Short-Billed Dowitcher - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Semipalmated Plover - GRB - Kennebunk, Maine. Western Willet - Pine Point - Scarborough, Maine.
Whimbrels - Pine Point - Scarborough, Maine. Lesser Yellowlegs - Pine Point - Scarborough, Maine.

 

(Click on map and use your up and down arrow keys to view the 3 locations on this map)

Yesterday, Sharon and I followed the peninsula south of Bath for our bird watching trip. It was such a beautiful morning, with bright sunshine and light winds. We birded Tottman Cove. Atkins Bay and Small Point for the first 2 hours after sunrise.

Our highlights were the sighting of a single Great Egret and Solitary Sandpiper at Tottman Cove (Maine Atlas, page 6 D-4) and 3 first year Bald Eagles on Lee Island near the Squirrel Point Light (Maine Atlas, page 6 D-5).

The following is our tally:

Location:     Small Point
Observers:  John and Sharon Briggs
Observation date:     8/23/08
Notes:     Clear Skies; Temp: 58 F.; SSW winds @ 3-5 mph
Number of species:     26

Canada Goose     30
American Black Duck     4
Common Loon     1     (Near pier at Ft. Baldwin)
Double-crested Cormorant     15
Great Egret     1     (Tottman Cove)
Snowy Egret     12
Great Blue Heron   1
Osprey     2     (1 Head Beach; 1 Tottman Cove)
Bald Eagle     3     (3 – 1st year on Lee Island near Squirrel Point Light)
Northern Harrier     3     (1 Sprague River; 2 Atkins Bay)
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Merlin     1
Black-bellied Plover     1
Semipalmated Plover     10
Solitary Sandpiper     1     (Tottman Cove)
Greater Yellowlegs     2
Willet     2
Lesser Yellowlegs     7
Whimbrel     3     (Atkins Bay)
Least Sandpiper     2     (Tottman Cove)
White-rumped Sandpiper     6
Short-billed Dowitcher     5
Long-billed Dowitcher     1
Mourning Dove     8
Belted Kingfisher     3
American Crow     18

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

The following are photos of some of the birds we observed during yesterdays bird watching trip. The Snowy Egret was very cooperative as I stood within 20 yards of it, the sun directly behind me. The bird more than likely had no idea that I was there.

Double-Crested Cormorant - Phippsburg, Maine. Lesser Yellowlegs - Phippsburg, Maine. Lesser Yellowlegs - Phippsburg, Maine.
Lesser Yellowlegs - Phippsburg, Maine. Snowy Egret - Phippsburg - Phippsburg, Maine. Snowy Egret - Phippsburg - Phippsburg, Maine.
Snowy Egret - Phippsburg, Maine. Snowy Egret - Phippsburg, Maine. Snowy Egret - Phippsburg, Maine.
Snowy Egret - Phippsburg, Maine. Snowy Egret - Phippsburg, Maine. Snowy Egret - Phippsburg, Maine.
Snowy Egret - Phippsburg, Maine. Semipalmated Sandpiper - Phippsburg, Maine. Semipalmated Sandpiper - Phippsburg, Maine.

Happy birding!

Bird versus window

Juvenile Black and White Warbler
Juvenile Black and White Warbler

We don’t have many birds flying into our windows here at home. About the worst that happens is a brush by because we keep our feeder within 2 feet of our picture window.

Last evening, this juvenile Black and White Warbler had a fairly decent collision which put it straight to the ground. My wife alerted me that the bird was on the ground dazed and confused. I went out and gently picked up the tiny creature and kept it warm in my hands for a time.

It seemed like this little fella was going to be fine. After 15 minutes or so, it climbed my shirt and perched on my shoulder for a while, looking around and cheeping occasionally.

Juvenile Black and White Warbler
Juvenile Black and White Warbler

 My little friend finally shook it off and flew into the trees. But not before leaving me a little present for my help. No problem, it washes off easily. I feel better that the little fella is fine. (Yes I did handle the bird. But it was to protect it from predators while it recovered. I had no intention in causing harm to this migratory bird.)

Ornithologists estimate that up to 100 million birds are killed each year by collisions with windows. These collisions usually involve small songbirds, such as finches, that may fall unnoticed to the ground. Sometimes the birds are merely stunned and recover in a few moments. Often, though, window hits lead to severe internal injuries and death.

Here are a few tips to help avoid these collisions.

  • Relocate feeders and other attractants. You can start by simply moving your feeders and birdbaths to new locations. Bird strikes usually occur at particular windows, so moving feeders farther away from them may solve the problem entirely. You can also try placing your feeders much closer to the glass—if a feeder is just a foot or two from a window, birds may still fly into it, but not with enough force to injure themselves.
  • Avoid apparent visual tunnels. Bright windows on the opposite wall from your picture window may give the illusion of a visual tunnel through which birds may try to fly. Try making one window less transparent by keeping a shade drawn or a door closed, or by altering the lighting inside the house.
  • Commercially available hawk silhouettes are effective at deterring window strikes, as long as you use several. They work not because they look like hawks, but because they break up the window’s appearance. Do not attach objects directly to thermopane windows without consulting the manufacturer.
  • Attach branches in front of windows. For a more natural look, attach dead tree branches in front of your window. They may cause the birds to slow down and avoid the window as they fly toward it. You can arrange the branches so they don’t obscure your view.
  • Attach hanging objects to deter birds. Hang lightweight, shiny items in front of the window so they move in the breeze and dissuade birds from approaching. Try strips of shiny, reflective plastic (hung a few inches apart), old aluminum pie plates, or unwanted compact discs.
  • Reduce reflections with trees or awnings. Reduce the amount of light reaching a problem window by planting shade trees close to it. This will help prevent reflections. However, it will also obstruct your view. Trees take time to grow, so consider shading your window with an awning instead. Either one may help birds by reducing the amount of sky reflected in windows.
  • Cover windows with netting. Place netting over the window. It provides a physical barrier to birds flying into the glass, yet won’t obstruct your view. Small-mesh netting is best, so if birds do fly into it they won’t get their heads or bodies entangled but will bounce off unharmed. You can mount the netting on a frame, such as a storm-window frame, for easy installation and removal. You could also try insect screening material.

Another aid in avoiding collisions at night is to draw your blinds so birds don’t see the light inside your home. During night migration, birds are know to fly into windows that have light on the other side. This commonly occurs in taller building such as apartments and high-rises.


Here on the home front, I am recovering from a back injury. I have not been out and about birding like I would like too, but there’s plenty of action in the yard. Fledglings are everywhere! Parents are feeding the young and juveniles are playing and learning.

Fledged Hummingbirds have this activity not much unlike a game of chicken. They charge at each other until at the very last second, one will dodge, just avoiding a mid-air collision. I have counted at the least 10 Hummingbirds, 6 of which are fledglings.

Chipping Sparrows will eat all that you can provide. Especially if one of these “Chippers” are raising a Brown Headed Cowbird. It is amazing watching the Sparrow feeding a bird 3 to 4 times its size. The fledged Chippers are all over the place and they are noisy.

We had 17 species nesting either on our property or within the immediate vicinity. From Purple Finches, Osprey, and Bald Eagles to a family of Black Ducks and Canada Geese. I will compile the list and report it as soon as I am sure I have identified all the local nesters.

The sun has finally revealed its warmth, after all of this cool, rainy weather we have been having. Hopefully the flooding is over and we can began to enjoy the outdoors once again.

I leave you with a few pictures of a female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird that I photographed this morning on one of our feeders.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - Bath, Maine. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - Bath, Maine.
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - Bath, Maine. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - Bath, Maine.
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - Bath, Maine. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - Bath, Maine.

 

Happy birding!