Tag Archives: Tricolored Heron x Snowy Egret x Little Egret hybrid

This Week’s Highlights, June 10 – June 17, 2022

An amazing behavior to witness, this femaleYellow-bellied Sapsucker was collecting beak-fuls of insects (primarily crane flies, family Tipula spp.) and then dunking them in flowing sap before feeding nestlings. This is not a behavior I can remember having witnessed, and it was absolutely fascinating to watch.
We observed this at the Hunter Cove Preserve in Rangeley on a walk for the
Rangeley Birding Festival over the weekend (with Cameron Cox).

My observations of note over the past eight days included the following:

  • Rangeley Birding Festival, June 10-12. Cameron Cox and I led a total of four tours, and while none of them expected to find “boreal specialties,” our group did hear 2+ CANADA JAYS at Hunter Cove Preserve on 6/13. Otherwise, we mostly basked in the glow of Blackburnian Warblers and other area denizens, like the above Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
  • Proposed* TRICOLORED HERON X SNOWY EGRET X LITTLE EGRET(S) in Scarborough Marsh, 6/16 (with Ted Floyd and Hannah Floyd).  The saga continues!  Although I have spent dreadfully little time in the marsh this summer, reviewing photographs has led me to consider that there are now two of this proposed three-way combination – one distinctly whiter (especially on the wings) than the other. On the 16th, we observed both birds distantly (darker bird off Eastern Road, whiter bird at Pelreco Marsh).  In both cases they were very far and even phone-scoped photos were worthless due to heat shimmer.  If you have great photos of birds from this year, I would love to see them!

*Hybrid combo as proposed in:

Lovitch, Derek J. 2022. Photo Salon: Hybrid Herons of Maine. North American Birds 72 (2): 28-40.

  • 22 Semipalmated Sandpipers, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 6/16 (with Ted Floyd and Hannah Floyd).
  • 6-8 Semipalmated Sandpipers and 2 ad. Little Blue Herons, Pine Point, Scarborough, 6/16 (with Ted Floyd and Hannah Floyd).
On 6/16, I set out with visiting friends to study “sharp-tailed” sparrows.  In one of those rare days, we saw and heard numerous Saltmarsh (here), Nelson’s, and hybrids thereof. If only every day is that easy for studying these birds! And all of our views came without any use of recordings or stepping into the marsh.

This Week’s Highlights, 1/29-2/6, 2022

While not the rarest bird this week, I have been thoroughly entertained by this Brown Creeper who has taken to picking up bits of seed from under a feeder at our home in Pownal. The horizontal position makes the bird look so different! Sorry for the lousy photos though…they were taken through a screen during the ice/snow storm on 2/4.

The Blizzard of 2022 provided some great opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing locally for the first time this winter, so I took full advantage of that, even if it did further limit my dedicated birding during this busy week plus.  Interestingly, my most “serious” birding was a half day (post-snowblowing and shoveling) on Sunday searching Portland through Cape Elizabeth for storm-related birds, but that effort turned up nothing at all of note! Here are my observations of note over the past 9 days:

  • 5 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS, 2 COMMON REDPOLLS (FOY), 6 Pine Siskins (FOY), and 1 Purple Finch, Long Falls Dam Road area of Carrying Place Township, 1/31 (with Jeannette).
  • The Androscoggin River between the downtowns of Lewiston and Auburn remain a surprisingly productive mid-winter hotspot. On 2/1, Jeannette and I discovered an incredible (especially for the interior of Maine) five species of dabblers from the Auburn Riverwalk!  Amongst the Mallards and a couple of American Black Ducks, there were single female GREEN-WINGED TEAL, AMERICAN WIGEON, and NORTHERN PINTAIL.  Making this even more interesting is the fact that it’s usually the drakes that we find overwintering in Maine.  Additionally, the drake RING-NECKED DUCK continues, and we had a single 1st-winter Iceland Gull. Two Bufflehead and 5 Hooded Mergansers joined the usual Common Goldeneyes and Common Mergansers for a goodly inland total of 10 species of waterfowl. A unusually conspicuous Beaver continues to amuse here as well.
  • 3 drake and 1 hen BARROW’S GOLDENEYES and 8 Dunlin (FOW here), Winslow Park, Freeport, 2/13.

Other Notes:

  • My article – a 13-page photo salon – on the Hybrid Herons of Scarborough Marsh (Patches!) has finally been published in the most recent issue of North American Birds. In it, I lay out the theory that at least 5 different individuals have been seen in Scarborough Marsh since I first found an odd juvenile heron in July of 2012 that we now believe is a hybrid between a Snowy Egret and a Tricolored Heron.

I made the case that the two current birds are backcrosses, one with a Snowy Egret (SNEG X TRHE X SNEG) and the other with a Little Egret (SNEG X TRHE X LIEG). I’ll be watching them carefully for the potential of a developing hybrid swarm.

Unfortunately, at this time, the journal is only available online to members of the ABA. However, digital e-memberships (with access to all of the ABA publications) are only $30 a year, and you can purchase issues of the magazine directly from the ABA by emailing info@aba.org. Also, if you wanted to take a peek at the article, I do have a couple of extra copies here at the store for you to peruse.

Believe it or not, a hybrid heron is much rarer than a Steller’s Sea-Eagle, at least from a world perspective…in fact, it’s possible these birds are one of a kind!

Derek’s Birding This 7/3-7/16, 2021.

My observations of note over the past fourteen days included the following:

  • Rare mid-summer SCOTER hat-trick with 4 Black, 2 White-winged, and 1 Surf, Simpson’s Point, Brunswick, 7/3.
  • 4 Greater and 3 Lesser Yellowlegs, Wharton Point, Brunswick, 7/3.
  • Seawatching from Eastern Point, Gloucester, MA on 7/8 during Tropical Storm Elsa (with family): In about 2 hours where fog lifted enough to see, Great Shearwaters were passing at an average of 199 per 5-minute segment and Sooty Shearwaters were passing at an average of 314 per 5-minute segment. Plus 2 MANX SHEARWATERS, 1 unidentified JAEGER, and 1 Cory’s Shearwater.
  • 1 proposed TRICOLORED HERON X SNOWY EGRET X LITTLE EGRET hybrid, Pelreco Marsh, Scarborough Marsh, 7/13.
  • 14 Semipalmated Sandpipers (FOF), Pine Point, Scarborough, 7/13.
  • 7 Sanderlings (FOF; a little on the early side), Crescent Beach State Park, Cape Elizabeth, 7/15.

Derek’s Birding This 6/26-7-2

My observations of note over the past seven days included the following:

  • 5 White-winged Scoters, Scott’s Landing Preserve, Deer Isle, 6/27 (with Marion Sprague).
  • “Fall” shorebird migration is underway!  7 Lesser Yellowlegs, 3 Greater Yellowlegs, and 2 Least Sandpipers (FOF) were off Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 7/1 (with clients from AZ).
  • 4 Gadwall, Eastern Road Trail, 7/1 (with clients from AZ).
  • 1-2 TRICOLORED HERONS, Scarborough Marsh, 7/1 (first at Eastern Road and then possibly same bird later at Pelreco Marsh; with clients from AZ).
  • The proposed continuing TRICOLORED HERON X SNOWY EGRET X LITTLE EGRET HYBRID, Pelreco Marsh, Scarborough Marsh, 7/1 (with clients from AZ). Later spotted passing over Pine Point.

Derek’s Birding This 6/19-25

This distantly phone-scoped image doesn’t do this bird justice, but here is a Snowy Owl…observed in June…in Maine…while wearing a t-shirt. This was a treat for both me and my clients visiting from Arizona on 6/25 (see below).

My observations of note over the past eight days included the following:

  • 1 immature male/ female pair of ORCHARD ORIOLES, Green Point WMA, 6/21 (with Jeannette). Clearly paired up but no breeding behaviors noted.
  • 1 immature male ORCHARD ORIOLE, 1 Yellow-throated Vireo (probably my first here), and 1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Fort Foster, Kittery, 6/22.
  • 141 immature Bonaparte’s Gulls, Fort Foster, 6/22. The largest number of Bonies in the summer that I have seen in the south coast in a number of years.
  • 1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Seapoint Beach, Kittery, 6/22.
  • 1 continuing SNOWY OWL, 6/25: Observed (with clients from AZ) from the Colony Beach parking lot in Kennebunkport, looking across the river to a house behind Gooch’s Beach, Kennebunk (new location; photos above).
  • 1 out of place male American Kestrel, atop a cell phone tower in downtown Biddeford from Palace Diner, 6/25 (with clients from AZ).
  • 1 continuing proposed TRICOLORED HERON X SNOWY EGRET X LITTLE EGRET HYBRID, Pelreco Marsh, Scarborough Marsh, 6/25 (with clients from AZ).
  • 1 Greater Yellowlegs, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 6/25 (with clients from AZ).

One of the highlights for me this week, however, was non-bird: 20+ Gray Seals feeding very close to Fort Popham in Phippsburg on 6/20 (with client from CT). While Harbor Seals are frequent here in the summer, I don’t recall seeing so many Grays inshore in this or other nearby areas.

Derek’s Birding This 6/11-18

The Kennebago River from the Boy Scout Road with Rangeley Birding Festival tour group, 6/12.

My observations of note – in addition to many of the area’s breeding specialties – over the past eight days included the following:

  • 1 heard only CANADA JAY, 6/12, but two well-seen on 6/13, Boy Scout Road, Rangeley, (with Evan Obercian and Rangeley Birding Festival tour group)
  • 2 Red Crossbills, Wheeler Rd, Rangeley, 6/12 (with Evan Obercian).
  • 1 Cape May Warbler, Rangeley, 6/12 (with Evan Obercian. Could not relocate on 6/13).
  • 16++ occupied PURPLE MARTIN nests, Depot Road colony, Belgrade, 6/13 (with Evan Obercian).
  • 1 Louisiana Waterthrush, Morgan Meadow WMA, 6/15 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 proposed TRICOLORED HERON X SNOWY EGRET X LITTLE EGRET hybrid, Pelreco Marsh, Scarborough Marsh, 6/16 (with clients from Colorado and Maine) and 6/17 (with clients from Minnesota).
  • 1 AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER, Pine Point, Scarborough, 6/16 (with clients from Colorado and Maine).
  • 1 Lesser Yellowlegs and 4 Greater Yellowlegs, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 6/17 (with clients from Minnesota).
  • 3 Sooty Shearwaters (FOY), 1 Greater Shearwater, 40+ Wilson’s Storm-Petrels, etc, Cap’n Fish’s Whale Watch, Boothbay Harbor, 6/17 (with clients from Minnesota).

Derek’s Birding This Week, 5/15-21/2021

 

In an article to be published this fall in the journal North American Birds, I propose this bird as a Tricolored Heron x Snowy Egret hybrid backcrossed with a Little Egret (TRHE x SNEG x LIEG). This individual has been present since 2014 and seems to visit marshes between Hampton, NH and Cape Elizabeth. Note the two long neck plumes and the greenish lores.

My highlights over the past seven days included the following:

  • 58 White-winged Scoters, Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 5/15.
  • 15 species of warblers led by 25+ Yellow-rumped and an incredible 15+ Cape May Warblers, Evergreen Cemetery, Portland, 5/16 (with Down East Adventures Songbird Workshop Group).
  • 12-15 Red Crossbills and 1 Evening Grosbeak, Evergreen Cemetery, 5/16 (with Down East Adventures Songbird Workshop Group).
  • 17 species of warblers, led by 17 Common Yellowthroats and 9 Ovenbirds, Florida Lake Park, 5/17 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 Louisiana Waterthrush, Elmwood Trail, Pownal, 5/19.
  • 16 species of warblers led by 23 Common Yellowthroats and 8 Ovenbirds, Florida Lake Park, 5/20.
  • 1 continuing SNOWY OWL, Pennell Way, Brunswick, 5/21.
  • Proposed TRICOLORED HERON X SNOWY EGRET X LITTLE EGRET HYBRID, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 5/21. See caption above.
  • 2 drake and 1 hen NORTHERN SHOVELER, Eastern Road Trail, 5/21.
  • 3 continuing TRICOLORED HERONS and 1 drake NORTHERN SHOVELER, Pelreco Marsh, Scarborough Marsh, 5/21.

My personal first-of-years and new spring arrivals included the following mix of on-time and early arrivals plus “catching up” on coastal birds:

  • 1 BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO (early!), Old Town House Park, North Yarmouth, 5/15 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
  • 2 Scarlet Tanagers, Evergreen Cemetery, 5/16 (with Down East Adventures Songbird Workshop Group).
  • 1 Green Heron, Evergreen Cemetery, 5/16 (with Down East Adventures Songbird Workshop Group).
  • 1 Red-eyed Vireo, Evergreen Cemetery, 5/16 (with Down East Adventures Songbird Workshop Group).
  • 1 White-crowned Sparrow, feeders here at the store, 5/16.
  • 2 Laughing Gulls, Wolfe’s Neck Center, Freeport, 5/17 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 Indigo Bunting (late), Wolfe’s Neck Center, Freeport, 5/17 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/18 (with Jeannette).
  • 1 Common Nighthawk (early), our yard in Pownal, 5/19.
  • 1 Alder Flycatcher, Florida Lake Park, 5/20.
  • 1 Bay-breasted Warbler, Florida Lake Park, 5/20.
  • 3 Common Terns, Simpson’s Point, Brunswick, 5/20.
  • 1 GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH, our yard in Pownal, 5/21.
  • 16 Saltmarsh Sparrows, Eastern Road Trail, Scarborough Marsh, 5/21.
  • 3 Nelson’s Sparrows, Eastern Road Trail, 5/21.
  • 32 Short-billed Dowitchers, Pine Point, Scarborough, 5/21.
  • 50+ Ruddy Turnstones, Pine Point, 5/21.
  • 10+ Roseate Terns, Pine Point, 5/21.
  • 1 BLACK TERN – always a treat to catch one in migration – Pine Point, 5/21.
This Saltmarsh Sparrow posed for a quick photo this morning along the Eastern Road Trail. My first of the year were today, although at least a few have likely been present for a week to 10 days in and around Scarborough Marsh.

Derek’s Birding This Week, 5/1-7/2021

It was fun to watch two male Red Crossbills feeding earlier this week without even leaving the store!

My highlights over the past seven days included the following:

  • 2 Red Crossbills, feeding on Scots Pine here at the store, 5/1.
  • 1 continuing PROPOSED TRICOLORED HERON X SNOWY EGRET X LITTLE EGRET hybrid, Pelreco Marsh, Scarborough Marsh, 5/2 (with clients from Maine.  Full explanation in an upcoming article in North American Birds slated to be published this fall).
  • 10 species of warblers (FOY; finally!) led by only 9 Pine Warblers and 7 Black-and-white Warblers but including 1 LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH, Morgan Meadow WMA, Raymond, 5/7.
  • 1 Evening Grosbeak, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/7.

As the Neotropical migrant floodgates open, my personal first-of-years and new spring arrivals included:

  • 1 continuing TRICOLORED HERON, Spurwink Marsh, 5/2 (with clients from Maine).
  • 6 Piping Plovers, Western Beach, Scarbrough, 5/2 (with clients from Maine).
  • 1 Least Sandpiper, Dunstan Landing, Scarborough Marsh, 5/2 (with clients from Maine).
  • 3 Willets, Scarborough Marsh, 5/2 (with clients from Maine).
  • 1 Ovenbird, our yard in Pownal, 5/3.
  • 1 Northern Parula, our yard in Pownal, 5/3.
  • 1 Black-throated Green Warbler, our yard in Pownal, 5/3.
  • 1 Baltimore Oriole, feeders here at the store, 5/4.
  • 1 Northern Waterthrush, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 5/5.
  • 1 Nashville Warbler, Florida Lake Park, 5/5.
  • 1 Chestnut-sided Warbler, Runaround Pond, Durham, 5/6.
  • 3 Black-throated Blue Warblers, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/7.
  • 4 Common Yellowthroats, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/7.
  • 1 Yellow Warbler, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/7.
  • 1 Warbling Vireo, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/7.
  • 1 Veery, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/7.
  • 3 Chimney Swifts, Bradbury Mountain Spring Hawkwatch, 5/7.
  • 1 Blackburnian Warbler, Bradbury Mountain Spring Hawkwatch, 5/7.
This Tricolored Heron was sitting pretty not far off into Spurwink Marsh when I visited the area with clients on Sunday the 2nd.