It’s happening! As the days get longer and temperatures rise, we are happy to see migrant birds returning to or passing through Maine. In this blog post I’ll present a quick run-through, grouped by alliterate families in taxonomic order, of some of the birds we are seeing lately.
Swans through Swifts
April sees the largest push of waterfowl through the state. It’s easy to rack up 20+ species of ducks in a morning birding. Recent highlights have included flocks of Snow Geese across the state, inland Brant, and several Greater White-fronted Goose (including one easy-to-see bird in the Spurwink Marsh, visible from Sawyer Road right at the Scarborough/Cape Elizabeth line — photo below). Redhead in Saco and Brunswick were a bit more charismatic than the lingering Mute Swan in Sanford.
Cranes through Cormorants
Sandhill Cranes are pushing north to their breeding grounds with pairs already at Messalonskee Lake and Plymouth Pond, while other migrants are being spotted across the southern half of the state. Meanwhile, Double-crested Cormorants have flooded back into Maine’s waterways.
Herons through Hawks
It is hard not to drive by the Scarborough Marsh without seeing a Great or Snowy Egret. Glossy Ibis are trickling in but the big push tends to come in the second half of April. The hawk watch at Bradbury Mountain continues to report decent numbers of migrating raptors passing through; daily updates can be viewed here: hawkcount.org/month_summary.php?rsite=616
Swallows through Starlings
Tree Swallows have been back for a few weeks, even surviving a few snowy days. Despite the cold temps, these and other early migrants, like Eastern Phoebes, are able to find invertebrates around open water and can supplement their diet with some fruit and limited seeds. Despite the many reasons to dislike invasive European Starlings, this is a great time to appreciate their stunning breeding plumage as the pale tips wear off the feathers they replaced last fall.
New World Sparrows through Wood Warblers (stretching the alliteration)
Say goodbye to the American Tree Sparrows that have been at your feeders all winter and get ready for Chipping Sparrows! And perhaps my favorite thing to look forward to is the returning warblers — we had two Palm Warblers (my first of the year) during the Gilsland Farm bird walk this week. A full list from that walk is available here: ebird.org/me/view/checklist/S44491434. And you can join us any Thursday morning at 7am!