News & Notes

Reflections on Warbler Walks

Thursday, May 21st, 2015
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Each weekday morning from May 5th through the 15th, I had the pleasure of leading free walks at Evergreen Cemetery and Capisic Pond Park in Portland. In 10 days we saw 99 species, plus one other taxa (American Black Duck x Mallard hybrid). A complete list of these species is located at the end of this post but I did want to reflect on a few of the highlights:

Least Bittern

On the Saturday after our first walk in Capisic Pond Park, a Least Bittern was spotted there. As a guide, I cringed at the thought that the bird could have been around during our walk on Friday and we missed it. Least Bitterns are listed as endangered in Maine because of their low numbers and very limited breeding range, so the sighting would be a real showstopper for the walk. Many birders searched for the Least Bittern over the following days to no avail. Then finally, on our last walk, (Friday, the 15th), I just happened to pause and scan the cattails and there it was! What a way to end our warbler walks!

LEBI - by Sandra Mitchell Photo by Sandra Mitchell


Red Crossbill (Type 10)

For almost a month now, a flock of 8-15 Red Crossbills has been reported at Evergreen Cemetery. We lucked into them on two of the days we were there. They were always foraging in the tamarack trees on the west end of the large pond. Without getting too detailed here, you should know there are 10 distinct ‘types’ of Red Crossbills, some of which may be unique species. You can read much more on this in Matt Young’s article. To make a long story short, I was able to get a good recording of the flight calls of this flock and Matt was able to identify them as Type 10. This is the expected type for Maine but it is nice to verify.


Overall Summary

This was an interesting couple of weeks for warblers. Except for two cooler mornings, we had warm and beautiful days. Although the warmth is nice for birders, it doesn’t contribute to the ‘fallout’ conditions that we all like. The winds were also less than favorable for producing large numbers of birds. Overall, diversity was near average but it did seem like a slow start. That said, we are still in the peak of it! If you feel like you missed the opportunity to see these birds, than fear not, the best may be yet to come! Over the weekend, I finally picked up my first Blackburnian Warbler of the year and I heard reports of two Cape May Warblers at Evergreen on May 18th.

Bird-a-thon: Gilsland Farm team needs your help!

This Saturday, as part of the L.L.Bean Freeport Festival, Maine Audubon is holding its annual Bird-a-thon. This is a 24-hour event where teams of birders travel anywhere in the state to see as many species of birds as possible. Please consider donating to my team, the “Sub-adult Twitchers”, because the funds we raise go directly towards programming like these spring Warbler Walks and the free Naturalist Forum talks every month. I’ve put together a team of mostly youth birders (some of us want to feel young, but last year I learned that having multiple drivers on your team is very helpful). Please consider donating to our team at:

Complete Species List:

  • Canada Goose
  • Wood Duck
  • American Black Duck
  • Mallard
  • American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid)
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Common Loon
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Least Bittern
  • Green Heron
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Osprey
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Bald Eagle
  • Broad-winged Hawk
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Virginia Rail
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Solitary Sandpiper
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Herring Gull
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Mourning Dove
  • Black-billed Cuckoo
  • Chimney Swift
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Least Flycatcher
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Great Crested Flycatcher
  • Eastern Kingbird
  • Blue-headed Vireo
  • Warbling Vireo
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • Blue Jay
  • American Crow
  • Tree Swallow
  • Bank Swallow
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Brown Creeper
  • House Wren
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Veery
  • Swainson’s Thrush
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Wood Thrush
  • American Robin
  • Gray Catbird
  • Brown Thrasher
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Ovenbird
  • Northern Waterthrush
  • Black-and-white Warbler
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • American Redstart
  • Northern Parula
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler
  • Blackpoll Warbler
  • Black-throated Blue Warbler
  • Palm Warbler
  • Pine Warbler
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Prairie Warbler
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Canada Warbler
  • Wilson’s Warbler
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Common Grackle
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Orchard Oriole
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • House Finch
  • Purple Finch
  • Red Crossbill
  • Pine Siskin
  • American Goldfinch


Doug Hitchcox Head Shot - please credit  M. Kathleen Kelly (1)Meet Doug Hitchcox, Maine Audubon Staff Naturalist

A Maine native, Doug grew up in Hollis and graduated from the University of Maine in 2011. Throughout college Doug worked at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center and was hired as Maine Audubon’s staff naturalist in the summer of 2013, a long time “dream job.” In his free time, Doug volunteers as one of Maine’s eBird reviewers, is the owner and moderator of the ‘Maine-birds’ listserv and serves as York County Audubon board member and Secretary of the Maine Bird Records Committee.

Submit your question for Doug: