Harlequin winter 2015

Winter 2015
A Dramatic New Study Raises the
Alarm for North American Birds
It’s a new year … and many challenges are upon us.
While it’s not the way we might prefer to start off
the year, a new study from National Audubon
Society presents a very sobering picture: ongoing
climate change threatens nearly half the bird species
in the continental United States and Canada,
including dozens of iconic birds like the Bald Eagle,
Common Loon, Baltimore Oriole and Brown
"It's a punch in the gut. The greatest threat our birds
face today is global warming," said Audubon Chief
Scientist Gary Langham, who led the investigation.
"That's our unequivocal conclusion after seven
years of painstakingly careful and thorough
research. Global warming threatens the basic fabric
of life on which birds - and the rest of us - depend,
and we have to act quickly and decisively if we are
going to avoid catastrophe for them and for us."
The Common Loon would continue to be found in
winter and its winter plumage (above) along
Maine’s coast, but would no longer grace Maine’s
lakes in summer with its beautiful breeding
plumage (below) and haunting call.
The study identifies 126 species that will lose more
than 50 percent of their current ranges - in some
cases up to 100 percent - by 2050, with no
possibility of moving elsewhere if global warming
continues on its current trajectory. A further 188
species face more than 50 percent range loss by
2080 but may be able to make up some of this loss
if they are able to colonize new areas. These 314
species include many not previously considered at
risk. The report indicates that numerous extinctions
are likely if global temperature increases are not
John Picken photo
"The prospect of such staggering loss is horrific, but
we can build a bridge to the future for America's
birds, and we know that when we do the right things
for birds, we do the right things for people too,"
said Audubon President David Yarnold. "This
report is a roadmap, and it's telling us two big
things: We have to preserve and protect the places
birds live, and we have to work together to reduce
the severity of global warming."
determined the climate variables that dictate where
all North American birds live today and then
brilliantly used climate forecasts to project where
birds will most likely occur in the future. We all
will see the effects of changing climate in our own
backyards. We just cannot ignore such a sobering
wake-up call."
The study, which was funded in part by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, has numerous
implications for conservation, public policy and
further research and provides a new suite of tools
for scientists, conservationists, land managers and
policy makers. For example, the study identifies
"strongholds," areas that will remain stable for some
birds even as climate changes and are candidates for
protection and management.
Langham and other Audubon ornithologists
analyzed 30 years of North American climate data
and tens of thousands of historical bird observations
from the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and U.S.
Geological Survey's North American Breeding Bird
Survey to understand the links between where birds
live and the climatic conditions that support them.
Understanding those links allows scientists to
project where birds are likely to be able to survive and not survive - in the future.
Audubon has launched a new web portal climate.audubon.org - dedicated to understanding
the links between birds and global warming,
including animated maps and photographs of the
314 species at risk, a technical report, and many indepth stoies. We encourage you to take a look!
While some species will be able to adapt to shifting
climates, many of North America's most familiar
and iconic species will not. The national symbol of
the United States, the Bald Eagle, could see its
current summer range decrease by nearly 75 percent
in the next 65 years. The Common Loon would
continue to be found in winter (and winter plumage)
along Maine’s coast, but would no longer grace
Maine’s lakes in summer with its beautiful breeding
plumage and haunting call. State birds which might
disappear from their states include the Baltimore
Oriole (Maryland), Brown Pelican (Louisiana),
California Gull (Utah), Hermit Thrush (Vermont),
Common Loon (Minnesota), Mountain Bluebird
(Idaho and Nevada), Ruffed Grouse (Pennsylvania),
Purple Finch (New Hampshire), and Wood Thrush
(Washington, D.C.).
Watson, Vice President
Watson, Vice
Monica Grabin, Secretary
Eastman, Treasurer
Doubleday, Membership
Doug Hitchcox, Field Trips
Ken Janes, Chapter Email
Pat Moynahan, Birding Challenge 284-5487
Bob Watson, Publicity
Eileen Willard, Director
Marian Zimmerman, Birding Trail 284-5487
For all upcoming events and general
information, please visit our website:
"We know that climate variables - including
temperature and precipitation - determine where
most birds live and where they don't, because it is
too hot, for example," said Terry Root, a Nobel
Prize-winning Stanford University professor who
serves on Audubon's board of directors but was not
involved in the study. "The Audubon study
And for the latest news, photos and updates,
please visit us on Facebook at:
Two more successful Christmas Bird
Counts – by Pat Moynahan, Marie Jordan and
Interested in Getting More Involved?
If you are enthusiastic, passionate about
birds and nature, enjoy working with
knowledgeable and fun people, and value
educational experiences and sharing them
with others, then being a York County
Audubon Board member might just be for
you. If you’d like to know more, please
email us at [email protected]
Bill Grabin
Each year, York County Audubon sponsors two
Christmas Bird Counts (“CBC’s”) as part of
National Audubon Society’s worldwide CBC. Our
two counts are centered in York/Cape Neddick and
Biddeford/Kennebunkport. Each count covers a
geographic circle, carved out into six or more
territories. Each territory has a team that scours it
during “count day” looking for all bird species, and
recording the numbers seen of each. It can, at
times, be a bit more art than science, as we attempt
to count - but not double count - the birds we find.
We also have supporters who monitor their home
feeders during the day and contribute their totals.
We ask them to report the greatest number of each
species that they see at any one time during the day.
Accustomed to often encountering bitter cold on
these counts, the conditions this year were as mild
as anyone could remember. That was pleasing for
the birders, but reduced the sightings of some birds.
With the ground and woods free of snow, many
birds were widely dispersed, as many food sources
remained available to them.
At the end of the day, we meet to compile the
counts and share highlights. Once compiled, the
counts are forwarded to National Audubon for their
master compilation. Both locally and nationally,
the totals are reviewed to assess trends in the
populations of all species. While the totals can vary
fairly dramatically year to year due to the weather
that happens to grace us on count day, the bigger
picture over time can be very informative.
Common Goldeneyes taking Flight
Marie Jordan photo
Despite those “challenging conditions,” there were
many great sightings and good totals. On the
December 15th count overseen by Pat Moynahan,
thirty-five participants identified 94 species of
birds in this circle, Maine’s southernmost count
area. The day was spectacular - clear blue skies,
very little wind, and temperatures 28-39 degrees.
Streams were running with only some icy edges,
while early morning hoarfrost reminded us of the
[continued on page 4]
Male Red-breasted Merganser off Parsons Beach in
Ken Janes photo
This year, the Southern York County CBC was held
on December 15th, while the BiddefordKennebunkport CBC was held on December 27th.
The open streams gave up Wood Duck (for the 4th
time in this 39-year count). A calm sea allowed
good viewing of 95 Harlequin Ducks (a near record)
and continuing large numbers of Black Scoters
(643). A Pacific Loon was identified in the most
southern section of the count. Both Red-necked and
Horned Grebes were high counts (130 and 105), and
Great Blue Heron numbers were up to 9. Red-tailed
Hawks increased to 35, while 2 Red-shouldered
Hawks thrilled Section 2 participants. Continuing
shorebirds included 188 Sanderlings and 8 Dunlin.
Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers continued to
increase, with new highs of 28 and 91 birds. Other
increases included White-breasted Nuthatch (158),
Carolina Wren (18), and Eastern Bluebird (131,
beating last year’s previous high of 113).
temperature reached an amazing 50 degrees with
bright sun and little wind, making for an extremely
comfortable day.
American Robin was far and away the most
dramatic change of the day (a total of 1537, almost
triple the previous high of 543!), with Sections 4
and 6 experiencing the majority of the movement.
Song and White-throated Sparrows continued an
upward trend (103) and (87). American Goldfinch
also blew the old numbers out of the water with 871
seen, from a previous high of 445. No new species
were added to the count this year.
We had some “night owls” roaming about this year
who, out before dawn, found a Northern Saw-whet
Owl and 5 Great Horned Owls. It is only the
second time a Western Tanager has been found on
our count day - a bird that many have been able to
enjoy since it was spotted in a Kennebunk
neighborhood early on this count day, and remained
there for many days thereafter.
We had new high counts for several species: 26
Common Merganser (previous high 23), 28 Redtailed Hawks (25), 2 Merlin (1), 6 Savannah
Sparrow (3) and 37 Red-winged Blackbird (14).
The Eastern Bluebird continued its (most welcome)
trend of expanding its winter population in southern
Maine; this year the count was 93, a significant
step up from last year’s 63, and each year has set a
new high count for several years now. And we had
two new species never before seen in the 55 years
of this CBC: an American Redstart and a pair of
Tree Swallows.
Most of all, thanks to all who participated, including
many who joined us for the first time. If you’d like
to join us next year, keep an eye on our website in
November for contact information. We’d be
delighted to have you.
YCA welcomes its New Members:
Susan Furst
Jasmin Robinson
Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell S. Ross
Boston, MA
Barbara Sevigny
Irene Starbird
Hollis Center
Megan Zopfi
Jessica Bartlett
Harold and Mona Brewer
Key Largo, FL
Mary Beth Brown
Marsha Clegg
Mr. and Mrs. Paul Dean
Biddeford Pool
Joan Tishkevich and family
Jonathan and Erin Cole
Old Orchard Beach
Allen B. Morgan, Jr.
Memphis, TN
Henry and Snow Morgan
Memphis, TN
Frank Nudd
Horned Grebe in winter plumage Ken Janes photo
On the December 27th count overseen by Marie
Jordan, we had 89 species seen on count day plus
one count week bird - a Hermit Thrush. (“Count
week” includes the 3 days before and after count
day. Any species found in that CBC’s territory
during count week which were not found on count
day are noted as count week birds.) The
Birding Patch – Marginal Way at Perkins
Cove in Ogunquit by Marian Zimmerman
Quest for 300 begins Year 5
Marginal Way, beginning at Perkins Cove, provides
a footpath along the rocky shoreline of Oarweed
Cove that offers extensive views of the cove and
ocean where ducks and seabirds can be readily
observed. This is a favored spot for birders from
November through March, when crowds are sparse
and winter birds are near shore. The shoreline path
is open to the public year round and may be
combined with a return trip to Perkins Cove through
the residential community to look for other birds.
We've just begun our fifth "Quest for 300," York
County Audubon's collective effort to find 300 bird
species in the county in the span of one calendar
year. It's a just-for-fun goal tracked through eBird,
the maine-birds email list, and the grapevine.
Anyone’s sightings are welcome and most
appreciated. On our website, you can see the
complete lists of the species seen each year.
By Scott Richardson
Together, we've made it to 300 once so far:
2011: 295
2012: 301
2013: 278
2014: 284
2015: What'll it be?
A highlight in this area are the Harlequin Ducks,
often seen at close range. This is one of the places
along the southern Maine coast where seeing them
in winter is expected. Other regularly occurring
winter birds include Common and Red-throated
Loons, Horned and Red-necked Grebes, Black
Guillemots, Common Eiders, Long-tailed Ducks,
Buffleheads, Common Goldeneyes, Red-breasted
Mergansers, and all three species of scoters.
Scanning the horizon might yield Northern Gannet
or Black-legged Kittiwake. King Eider are often
viewed just to the south of here (from Cliff House)
and may occasionally venture north into this area.
It is also possible to luck onto a Razorbill, Thickbilled Murre, or Dovekie.
In 2014, seven species turned up for the first time
since we started the Quest: Eurasian Wigeon,
Canvasback, Northern Bobwhite, Golden Eagle,
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Prothonotary Warbler,
and Painted Bunting.
Birding the inland habitat has yielded White-winged
Crossbill, Common Redpoll, Cedar Waxwing, and a
variety of sparrows and other passerines. In good
finch years, other species might also be found here.
The path along Marginal Way is open to the public
year round and free.
Directions: From the north: At the intersection of
Route 1 and Shore Road in Ogunquit, turn left onto
Shore Road and proceed for 0.8 mile to the parking
lot. Marginal Way begins at the left edge of the
parking lot.
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at the Wells Reserve in
June Ken Janes photo
But eight species were missed for the first time:
Stilt Sandpiper, Red Phalarope, Little Gull,
Bohemian Waxwing, Connecticut Warbler, Yellowbreasted Chat, Pine Grosbeak, and Common
From the South: At the intersection of Route 1 and
1A in Cape Neddick, take Route 1A for 0.9 miles
and turn left onto Shore Road. Continue for 4.6
miles, turning right onto Perkins Cove Road. (You
will pass the Cliff House on the way.) The parking
lot will be on the left in 0.2 miles.
Sometimes they're just not out there. When they are,
though, it takes alert birders to tally 'em up and pass
the word.
YCA announces Hog Island Scholarship
for July, 2015
Peterson was among the first teachers on the 335acre island. Rachel Carson described her visit to
Hog Island in her landmark book, Silent Spring.
Kenn Kaufman, only nine years old when he read
Peterson’s account of Hog lsland, is now an
international authority on birds and nature.
We also encourage anyone else to take a look at the
many summer week-long programs on Hog Island.
They’re not just for educators! They include:
- “Joy of Birding” (and music!) with Pete Dunne
and Grammy award winner Paul Winter,
- “Raptor Rapture”
- “Family Camp” week
- “Arts and Birding”
- “Breaking into Birding”
- “Maine Seabird Biology and Conservation”
FMI: http://hogisland.audubon.org/hog-islandprograms
Again this year, we are seeking an educator or
community leader to participate in a one-week
program on famed Hog Island off mid-coast Maine
in July. We will sponsor one participant who can
benefit from the Hog Island experience and use it to
teach others. Complete information is available at
www.yorkcountyaudubon.org and applications
are due by March 15th.
Thank you to Kennebunk Savings Bank
and You!
In 2014, YCA was awarded a donation of $845 as a
result of the votes we received from KSB customers
on their annual Community Ballot for non-profits.
This made us “one of the top vote-getting
organizations on the ballot.” Thank you to all who
voted for us, and to Kennebunk Savings Bank for
their continuing support of many community
The program is entitled “Sharing Nature: An
Educator’s Week” and will run from July 19th
through July 24th. Program details and
descriptions are available at
http://hogisland.audubon.org/sharing-natureeducator-s-week. The YCAS scholarship will pay
70% (up to $700) of the recipient's cost for program
tuition, room and board.
Thank you to the Wells Reserve and You!
YCAS’s 2014 Hog Island scholarship winners were
Emily Calhoun and Susan Williams. Their
description of the experience was published our
Autumn 2014 issue, which can be accessed through
our website.
In November, YCA again combined forces with the
Wells Reserve to co-sponsor our annual Birdseed
Sale fundraiser. Thanks to the participation of
countless YCA and Wells Reserve members, each
organization netted $1266 to go to our respective
educational programs. Thank you so much, and see
you next November! And the birds thank you too!
Since 1936, some of the world’s most well-known
and highly respected naturalists have come to Hog
Island and inspired thousands to learn about and
protect birds and the environment. Roger Tory
*** Upcoming YCAS Events at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm ***
Saturday, Feb 7th & Sunday, Feb 8th Gull ID Workshop with Derek Lovitch
This two-part workshop will get you started on unraveling the mysteries of
gull identification. The Saturday afternoon session from 1 till 4:30 at the
Wells Reserve will be indoors. Sunday morning from 8 till 12 will be spent
in the field in Portland. Space is limited. For complete details and to
reserve a spot, please visit the event page on our website:
Thursday, February 19th, 10 am – 2 pm at the Wells Reserve: Winter
Wildlife Day. For the fifth year, the Wells Reserve, the Center for Wildlife,
and York County Audubon team up to celebrate the wildlife of southern
Maine. Join us for lots of family fun with live animal presentations, guided
walks, and crafts. Snow or no snow, explore the trails and treasures of the
Wells Reserve at Laudholm. If the ground is white, bring skis, sleds, and
snowshoes (we have some snowshoes to share — mostly kid size — if you
don't have your own). Center for Wildlife presentations: 10-11am & 12-1pm.
Tracking walks & wildlife crafts: 11am-12pm & 1-2pm
Tuesday, March 17, 7:00pm at the Wells Reserve: Japan in Winter: a
Crane and Sea-Eagle Spectacle with Marie Jordan. Japan has several
claims to fame as a travel destination, but relatively few people think of the
country as a wildlife destination-in winter! Highlights of Marie’s trip
included thousands of Hooded and White-naped Cranes found on the
fabulous island of Kyushu, third largest of Japan’s four islands, and the
dancing Red-crowned Cranes and majestic Steller’s Sea Eagles on the larger
island of Hokkaido. She will include other bird species, interesting places
and sights seen as she traveled through the country.
Our Facebook page has been the happy recipient of many new posts
and has experienced a steady increase in page visits. Visitors to the
page have been rewarded with “hot off the digital camera” photos of
local unusual birds and other treats. Please visit the page, “like” us if
you wish, and post a photo, sighting or comment of your own.
And visit our website - YorkCountyAudubon.org - to see the photos in this newsletter magically
transformed from Black & White to Color!
York County Audubon
P.O. Box 201
Kennebunkport, ME 04046-0201
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visit: maineaudubon.org/support/frequent-flyer/