Tag Archives: state list

2021 Maine Birds Predictions

It might “only” have been a second state record, but the Rock Wren that was discovered along Marginal Way near the Perkin’s Cove parking lot in Ogunquit in November was a state bird for everyone who enjoyed it during its long stay that continues right through today.

It’s once again time for my annual Predictions Blog, where I view into my crystal binoculars and attempt to forecast some of the “new” birds to grace the State of Maine – and then my own personal state list – in the coming year.

2020 was definitely a different year. “Worst year ever” was a common refrain by year’s end, but don’t tell that to 2021 which seems to be taking up the challenge so far. I’ve written this blog for over a decade now, but this was the first one written about, and during, a national crisis that was so deadly that many birders stayed home for much of the year. Before spring had arrived in Maine and the deadly COVID-19 pandemic had fully arrived in Maine, trips were cancelled, many folks stayed closer to home if venturing out at all, and many birders avoided crowded seasonal hotspots. I wrote about birding in a pandemic in this early spring blog, but a small silver lining to this tragedy was the huge growth in birding, especially in the backyard.  I was even interviewed about this in the New York Times this summer.

By fall, the growth in birding and bird-feeding and the new online community connections made while stuck at home yielded even more opportunities to see amazing birds and add some really spectacular rarities to brand-new life lists. A massive incursion of birds from the western US was underway throughout the East this fall, and this resulted in some of the most incredible “mega” rarities, such as Rock Wren and Bullock’s Oriole. The first chaseable Rufous Hummingbird in many years was another real crowd-pleaser and was made accessible by gracious hosts.

Nonetheless, there were not any first state records detected this year. Therefore, my list of next 25 species to occur in Maine for 2021 remains unchanged:

  1. Neotropical Cormorant
  2. Graylag Goose
  3. California Gull
  4. Spotted Towhee
  5. Hammond’s Flycatcher
  6. Bermuda Petrel
  7. Black-chinned Hummingbird
  8. Common Shelduck
  9. Trumpeter Swan (of wild, “countable” origin)
  10. Audubon’s Shearwater – on “hypothetical” list, but I think the record is good).
  11. Little Stint
  12. Anna’s Hummingbird
  13. “Western” Flycatcher (Pacific-slope/Cordilleran)
  14. Common Ground-Dove
  15. Allen’s Hummingbird
  16. Redwing
  17. Spotted Redshank
  18. Painted Redstart
  19. Ross’s Gull
  20. Black-capped Petrel
  21. Lesser Nighthawk
  22. Elegant Tern
  23. Kelp Gull
  24. Black-tailed Gull
  25. Common Scoter

Despite such a great year for rare birds in Maine, I actually only added two birds to my own state list however. But they were good ones! But first, let’s check in with last year’s prediction list to see how I did…at least for the birds, the rest of the year, no, I did not predict.

Of course, there was (is) the Rock Wren (Honorable Mention) in Ogunquit (photo above), but for me, the bigger one was the Say’s Phoebe in New Gloucester on 9/24. It was #4 on my list, but my #1 nemesis bird.

As usual, there were also a handful of potential state birds for me that I did not see.  Common Ringed Plover (#12) on Seal Island in September and a Sooty Tern (Honorable Mention) on Matinicus Rock following Tropical Storm Isaias were obviously beyond my reach, obviously, a Franklin’s Gull (#5) in Lamoine on 11/5 did not linger, and a Yellow Rail (#22) was kept secret. The big miss however was the Golden-crowned Sparrow (Honorable Mention) in October at a feeder in Abbot that I just did not chase for a variety of reasons, including how busy the fall was at the store.

So a few tweaks to my list for my next additions to my personal state list are as follows:

  1. American White Pelican
  2. Neotropic Cormorant
  3. Franklin’s Gull
  4. Brown Pelican
  5. Graylag Goose
  6. California Gull
  7. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
  8. Slaty-backed Gull
  9. Boreal Owl
  10. Calliope Hummingbird
  11. Common Ringed Plover
  12. Cerulean Warbler
  13. White Ibis
  14. Gull-billed Tern
  15. Hammond’s Flycatcher
  16. Spotted Towhee
  17. Pacific Golden-Plover
  18. Wood Stork
  19. Ross’s Gull
  20. Black-chinned Hummingbird
  21. Brewer’s Blackbird
  22. Yellow Rail
  23. Loggerhead Shrike
  24. Virginia’s Warbler
  25. Common Shelduck

So let’s see what 2021 brings to the Maine birding world. A return to a sense of normalcy would be a nice start, however.

My favorite rarity photo of the year, however, was the Freeport Bullock’s Oriole feeding in front of the Maine state flag!

The 2017 Maine Bird Predictions Blog


Yup, it’s that time of year again. Not just time to celebrate the end of 2016 (is anyone really upset to see this year end?) and ring in the new, but reset the ol’ Year List (if you keep such a thing) and look forward to the avian wonders of 2017.

That means it’s time for my annual Predictions Blog, where I view into my crystal binoculars and attempt to forecast some of the “new” birds to grace the State of Maine, and my own personal state list, in the coming year.

But first, let us check in with my 2016 Predictions post, and see how I did.

Two birds were added to the cumulative Maine list in 2016. Incredibly, both were on Seal Island! A Great Knot on July 23rd followed an Ancient Murrelet in May that was later seen (presumably the same bird) at Petit Manan Island and then Machias Seal Island. While Ancient Murrelet was on my radar, and was part of my lengthy honorable mention list, Great Knot most definitely was not! In fact, this was one of the most amazing vagrant records in the state in some time.

My predictions for the next 25 species to be found in the state therefore has not changed too much. The new list is now:

1) Neotropical Cormorant
2) Graylag Goose
3) California Gull
4) Roseate Spoonbill
5) Spotted Towhee
6) Hammond’s Flycatcher
7) Bermuda Petrel
8) Black-chinned Hummingbird
9) Common Shelduck – with a recent spate of records in Eastern Canada, including three birds in New Brunswick in December,a pattern of vagrancy is definitely emerging. Provenance will always be a question however, as this species is kept in captivity. However, we used to dismiss every Barnacle Goose – for example – as simply an “escapee,” but its clear many are of natural vagrancy. Increases in the species in Iceland are a good sign that some of these recent records are of wild birds.
10) Fieldfare
11) Audubon’s Shearwater – on “hypothetical” list, but I think the record is good.
12) Little Stint
13) Anna’s Hummingbird
14) “Western” Flycatcher (Pacific-slope/Cordilleran)
15) Vermillion Flycatcher
16) Common Ground-Dove
17) Allen’s Hummingbird
18) Redwing – one in New Hampshire in March was a “near-miss!”
19) Western Wood-Pewee
20) Spotted Redshank
21) Zone-tailed Hawk
22) Gray Flycatcher
23) Ross’s Gull
24) Black-tailed Gull
25) Common Scoter

Meanwhile, I was very pleased to add six species to my own Maine list this fall. First up was the Black-throated Sparrow in Winter Harbor, which I visited on January 17th. Because it was discovered before I posted my Predictions Blog last year, I can’t count that as a prediction! But you can be sure I was happy to put this stunning southwestern sparrow on my state list anyway.

My only self-found addition was my 6th ranked species: Western Grebe. I found one at Simpson’s Point in Brunswick on April 17th. It’s always much, much sweeter to find, rather than chase, a new state bird!

Adding American Three-toed Woodpecker to my list was just a matter of finding the time and putting in the effort. In Mid-July, Evan Obercian and I used it as an excuse to spend a weekend around Baxter State Park, which eventually yielded a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers along Telos Road.

A long-staying King Rail near Moody Point in the Webhannet Marsh was my 4th addition of the year. It was very high on my honorable mention list, but I left it off the ranking this year.

My Washington County Tour in August once again produced a Sabine’s Gull, and once again it was in Canadian waters, despite our best efforts to follow it across the border. Therefore, I was elated when one was discovered at Sabattus Pond on October 29th. This was my only “drop what I was doing and rush out the door” twitch of the year. It was worth it. I really like Sabine’s Gulls.

And certainly last but not least was the Bullock’s Oriole in Camden that Luke Seitz and I drove up to see on November 25th. Another bird high on my Honorable Mention list, but it too was not on the official Top 25.

Great Skuas were again seen with regularity off of Bar Harbor, but I missed them on my paltry few trips offshore again this year. The nemesis continues! There was also a one-afternoon wonder Harris’s Sparrow in Belgrade in November.

But with my #1, #6, and #13 “next species” checked off, my updated list for my own next 25 species in Maine now reads:

1) Great Skua
2) Eurasian Collared-Dove
3) Graylag Goose
4) Say’s Phoebe
5) American White Pelican
6) Neotropic Cormorant
7) Fork-tailed Flycatcher
8) Tundra Swan
9) California Gull
10) Franklin’s Gull
11) Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
12) Slaty-backed Gull
13) Yellow Rail
14) Boreal Owl
15) Calliope Hummingbird
16) Cerulean Warbler
17) White Ibis
18) Gull-billed Tern
19) Hammond’s Flycatcher
20) Loggerhead Shrike
21) Ivory Gull
22) Roseate Spoonbill
23) Spotted Towhee
24) Virginia’s Warbler
25) Common Shelduck

Bullock’s Oriole on 11/25 in Camden

2014 Maine State List Predictions

About this time each year on my blog, I make two lists of predictions for the coming year in Maine birding.  The first is my (somewhat-educated) guesses of the next 25 birds to be added to Maine’s state list.  The second is my predictions of the next 25 birds that I will add to my own personal state list.

But first, let’s recap 2013.  This past year, only one new species was added to the Maine list (although there was a report of a Rock Wren in Washington County this fall; I know little of the details): Eurasian Collared-Dove that appeared at a Falmouth feeder on 5/28.  This was my #1-ranked bird for each of the last two years.  I was hardly going out on a limb with this one, as this bird continues to rapidly colonize North America.  While reports in New England continue to be sparse, we can only foresee these becoming much more regular and eventually colonizing much of Maine.

For 2014, I added Neotropical Cormorant to the list, based on the expanding population in the interior of the continent and increasing vagrancy to distant corners of the continent.  I also replaced Bermuda Petrel with Barolo Shearwater.  Recently split from Little Shearwater, this pelagic waif has been detected near the mouth of the Gulf of Maine.  It seems it’s only a matter of time before a research vessel or even a whale-watch trip (especially following a tropical system) finds one within Maine waters.  I also shuffled around a few species based on increasing populations and/or trends in vagrancy.

So here goes my Top 25 Next Species for Maine list:
1)   California Gull
2)   Ross’s Gull
3)   Graylag Goose
4)   Roseate Spoonbill
5)   Little Stint
6)   Fieldfare
7)   Hammond’s Flycatcher
8)   Black-chinned Hummingbird
9)   Spotted Towhee
10)  Audubon’s Shearwater (on “hypothetical” list)
11)  Neotropic Cormorant
12)  Black-tailed Gull
13)  Anna’s Hummingbird
14)  Redwing
15)  Allen’s Hummingbird
16)  Barolo Shearwater
17)  Long-billed Murrelet
18)  Common Ground-Dove
19)  Western Wood-Pewee (my gut still tells me a bird I found on Monhegan last fall was actually this species, but a good voice recording is going to be necessary to confirm identification).
20)  Spotted Redshank
21)  Yellow-legged Gull
22)  Brown-chested Martin
23)  Bermuda Petrel
24)  Gray Flycatcher
25)  Common Scoter

As for me personally, 2013 was a productive year.  I added eight birds to my state list (with last year’s rankings):
a) Hoary Redpoll (#2), Bowdoinham feeder, 2/4.
b) Northern Lapwing (honorable mention), Range Hill Road, Poland, 5/6.
c) Acadian Flycatcher (#22), FortFoster, 5/21.
d) Mew Gull (#21), Thomaston, 8/8.
e) Black-necked Stilt (honorable mention), Eastern Road, Scarborough Marsh, 6/23.
f) Kentucky Warbler (#12), East Point, Biddeford Pool, 9/9.
g) Bell’s Vireo (#23), Bailey Island, Harpswell, 10/23.
h) Hermit Warbler (honorable mention), Harpswell feeder, 12/12.

Of those, only the Acadian Flycatcher and Bell’s Vireo were “self-found,” which is always the more fulfilling way to add to one’s state list.  I’ll have to do better with this in 2014.  Unfortunately, it brings my self-found list down to 88.7% of my total state list (363).

I also “dipped” on the St. George American White Pelican in September, waiting until it was no longer being seen before going to look for it.  I chased enough in 2013, but I could have chased much more.  In fact, I never made the effort, was away, or just didn’t get lucky enough for some other potential state birds (American Three-toed Woodpecker, the collared-dove, Great Skua, Yellow-headed Blackbird, and Bullock’s Oriole all immediately come to mind).

There are lots of options for birds to add to my own list in the coming year(s), so narrowing it down to 25 and ranking them is really just a guessing game.  Of course previous records and trends are taken into account.
1) Slaty-backed Gull
2) American Three-toed Woodpecker
3) Great Skua
4) Eurasian Collared-Dove
5) Gyrfalcon
6) Graylag Goose
7) Say’s Phoebe
8) American White Pelican
9) Western Grebe
10)  Boreal Owl
11)  Fork-tailed Flycatcher
12)  Tundra Swan
13)  Yellow Rail
14)  Ivory Gull
15)  Franklin’s Gull
16)  Sabine’s Gull
17)  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
18)  California Gull
19)  Calliope Hummingbird
20)  Ross’s Gull
21)  Roseate Spoonbill
22)  Sage Thrasher
23)  Hammond’s Flycatcher
24)  Yellow-headed Blackbird
25)  Loggerhead Shrike

So there ya have it.  Now, let’s go birding and see what 2014 will bring!