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Competing Bird Lists: December 2016

A snowy day on Peaks Island greets the Christmas Bird Count ‘counters’. Poor visibility does not discourage the enthusiasm of Dan Nickerson (Raven Watcher) and Kathryn Ostermier. Every bird that dares to peek out from their shelters is identified and counted. Did anyone notice these intrepid searchers peering at your bird feeders? Dan knows where all of Peaks Island bird feeders are located and he takes advantage of the species found there.

During their long search – 6 hours and 12 minutes to be exact - with a hot chocolate milk break at Maggie LaCombe’s home, they identify 29 species. Many of these species are found by scanning the ocean and passages surrounding the island: 19 Common Loons, 15 Long-tailed Ducks, 15 Common Eiders, 3 Buffleheads, and more (see 2016 Bird List). Only one scoter – the Black Scoter – is detected through the misty snowfall. The secretive Pileated Woodpecker – two of them, are spotted. On occasion we all see shredded old tree trunks on the island, indicative of this splendid bird dining on beetles and their larvae.

A birdwatcher (Pat Moynahan) surveys the island early in December identifying 40 species – an impressive number for winter. Most significant sightings include 35 Red-necked Grebes and two Horned Grebes that are not noted on the Christmas Bird Count. All three scoter species are sighted and three unusual land birds – Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-winged Blackbird are added to the day’s list. Pat shares this bird list on eBird (see 2016 Bird List).

Michael is always up for a challenge, so we strike-off in his heated truck to top the interloper’s (Pat Moynahan) species list of 40. Sipping hot tea in gold-rimmed teacups indicates how very seriously we are taking up this challenge.

We see only 29 species (see 2016 Bird List) and we fail to even find the ever-present Rock Doves at the ferry landing, let alone the more rare species Pat finds early in December. We end the day, accepting defeat.

Additional Information:

“Many of the species listed were found by looking out over the ocean versus within the Island landscape. We encourage you to keep an eye out on the waters as you walk or drive around the Island because that's where many of our interesting species can be seen.” Michelle Brown

For detailed information on Christmas Bird Counts please see December 2015 Bird Blog.

Please stay tuned for the upcoming 2017 Bird Lists. If anyone (Lisa Lynch?) wants to share their Peaks Island bird lists, we will post them along with Michael’s eBird lists. We will post bird lists to the PILP website as we receive them – without announcements on PI Neighbor.

Contributors: Michael LaCombe, Sam Wainright, and those ones mentioned above.

Reviewers: Michael LaCombe, Michelle Brown, Sam Wainright and Marty

By and photos: Patty Wainright

Thank you for your interest in our Peaks Island birds. If you have any bird lists please that you want to share please contact Michelle:

Welcome to

The Backshore Bird Blog


The objective of The Backshore Bird Blog is to share the wonder and diversity of bird species seen along the Peaks Island shore.

If you like birds...

take a look at our list of the 100 varieties of birds that have been spotted around the Island here. How many can you spot?

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