It's a New Day

February 2015

Vol. 43, No. 1

Fourth Report of the Maine Bird Records Committee

Trevor B. Persons,Louis R. Bevier,William J. Sheehan,Peter D. Vickery,and Christopher A. Bartlett

New England’s first Yellow-billed Loon was found by Luke Seitz offshore of Portland, Cumberland County, Maine, October 26, 2010, and was relocated on October 29. Photo by Luke Seitz (October 26, 2010).

The fourth report of the Maine Bird Records Committee (hereafter ME-BRC, or the committee) details the evaluation of 95 records of 58 species and includes all decisions made by the committee between January 2009 and December 2013. The ME-BRC accepted records of 14 species new to the state list during this period: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Pink-footed Goose, Yellow-billed Loon, Black- browed Albatross, White-chinned Petrel, Brown Booby, Little Egret, Thayer’s Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Gray Kingbird, Mountain Bluebird, MacGillivray’s Warbler, and Bronzed Cowbird. These additions bring Maine’s official bird list to 445 species. The official list of Maine birds, as well as the list of review species, can be found on the Maine Bird Records Committee website.

The ME-BRC has nine voting members and a nonvoting secretary. Seven affirmative votes are needed to accept a record. Current committee members include Louis Bevier (chair, 2013-2014), Lysle Brinker, Robby Lambert, Pat Moynahan, Trevor Persons (chair), Jan Pierson, Will Russell, Luke Seitz, and Bill Sheehan. Sheehan served as secretary in 2009, was replaced by Chris Bartlett in 2010, was re-elected to the position in 2012, and passed the torch to Doug Hitchcox in 2013. Past committee members that voted on records presented here include Denny Abbott, Jody Despres,
Davis Finch, Scott Hall, Eric Hynes, Kristen Lindquist, Don Mairs, Jonathan Mays (chair, 2011–2012), Michael Smith, Peter Vickery (chair, 2005–2011), and Jeff Wells.

An asterisk (*) denotes that a written description was provided, and a dagger (†) denotes that a photograph was provided. In the localities, county names are italicized. All accepted records were unanimously accepted on the first round of voting unless otherwise indicated.

Records Accepted

Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

#2010–006: July 24, 2010, Sanford, York, Pat Moynahan*, Marian Zimmerman, Lysle Brinker*†. Maine’s first report was of five birds found at the Sanford wastewater treatment facility. Other reports from the Northeast in 2010 included a group of five in Pennsylvania on May 30 and in New York the following day, raising the possibility that the same quintet visited Maine.
#2012–016: July 19, 2012, Meadow Brook, Boothbay Harbor, Lincoln, Sarah Faulkner*. First round (8–1). Lone bird described from a small wetland.

Until the 1970s the Black-bellied Whistling Duck’s breeding range north of Mexico was restricted to extreme southern Texas and southeastern Arizona. It is now established north to South Carolina (Blankenship et al. 2013). The first records for Massachusetts came in 2008 and 2011; three separate sightings occurred in eastern Massachusetts during July and August 2012 (Kellogg et al. 2012), the same year as the Boothbay Harbor bird.

Pink-footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus)

Maine’s first Pink-footed Goose at Thornhust Farm, North Yarmouth, Cumberland County, September 29 to October 1, 2009 was followed two weeks later by three long- staying birds at the same locality. Photo by Trevor Persons (1 October 2009).

#2009–018: September 29–October 1, 2009, Thornhurst Farm, North Yarmouth, Cumberland, Trevor Persons*, Derek Lovitch†, Ed Hess†, Peter Vickery†, m. ob. Maine’s first Pink- footed Goose was found and identified by Lovitch on October 1; Persons described a goose briefly observed two days prior that was undoubtedly the same bird.
#2009–019: October 14–December 6, 2009, Thornhurst Farm, North Yarmouth, Cumberland, Rob Speirs, Derek Lovitch†, Lloyd Alexander†, m. ob. Speirs found a group of three Pink-footed Geese in the same area as the previous record. Unlike the first bird, these remained for several weeks. They also foraged in fields in Falmouth and Cumberland.
#2013–006: May 25, 2013, Great Salt Bay, Damariscotta, Lincoln, Mike Fahay†. This is the latest spring date for New England.

Ross’s Goose (Chen rossii)

This Ross’s Goose was seen in the company of Canada Geese on the Penobscot River at Winterport, Waldo County, Maine, November 21-24, 2010. Photo by Jonathan Mays, November 24, 2010.

#2002–001: April 3–9, 2002, Clinton, Kennebec, Wally Sumner*, Louis Bevier*†, Don Mairs*, Steve Mirick†, m. ob. Maine’s first Ross’s Goose, found by Sumner, spent a week foraging in dairy farm fields in the company of as many as 750+ Snow Geese.
#2009–004: March 15–20, 2009, West Street, Biddeford, York, Pat Moynahan, Marian Zimmerman, Derek Lovitch†, m. ob. This and the following were part of a region-wide incursion in Spring 2009 (Perkins 2009).
#2009–005: March 25–31, 2009, Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Cumberland, Lloyd Alexander†, Brian Guzetti. #2010–016: November 21–24, 2010, Penobscot River, Winterport, Waldo, John Wyatt, Jonathan Mays*†, Paul Corcoran†, m. ob. Discovered by Wyatt on November 21 and relocated by Mays on November 24.

Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)

#2008–013: October 6–December 9, 2008, Thornhurst Farm, North Yarmouth, Cumberland, Ed Slattery, Don Mairs, Derek Lovitch†, m. ob. Five or six previous reports of Barnacle Goose exist for Maine, but this is the second reviewed by the committee. Its presence with as many as 2000 Canada Geese and the simultaneous appearance of a Greenland Greater White-fronted Goose (subspecies flavirostris) within the flock supported natural vagrancy.
#2011–009: October 8–25, 2011, Caribou and Limestone, Aroostook, Bill Sheehan*†, Paul Cyr†, m. ob. Sheehan found Maine’s third accepted Barnacle Goose at Collins Pond in Caribou. This bird also visited multiple locations in nearby Limestone.

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)

#2009–017: October 25–26, 2009, Collins Pond, Caribou, Aroostook, Bill Sheehan*†. Because multiple Cackling Geese are found annually, including at least seven together at Collins Pond in 2011, the committee removed the species from the review list in 2012.

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)

#2009–003: January 3–March 14, 2009, Presumpscot River, Westbrook, Cumberland, Frank Paul, Luke Seitz†, Ed Hess†, m. ob. About the fifth record for Maine, but the first reviewed, this young male overwintered with four Ring-necked Ducks.
#2009–021: November 12–30, 2009, Sabattus Pond, Sabattus, Androscoggin, Mike Fahay*†, m. ob. Immature male relocated sporadically.

Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii)

#2010–013: October 26 and 29, 2010, offshore Portland, Cumberland, Luke Seitz*†, Derek Lovitch*, m. ob. This record is a first for Maine and New England. Seitz found this adult loon still in breeding plumage during a whalewatching tour on October 26. Others refound the bird less than two miles from its original location on October 29. (See photograph at top of page).

Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)

#2001–003: May 14, 2001, Waltham, Hancock, Kevin Emerson*. First round (8–1). An adult in breeding plumage was found in a small brook on the east side of Graham Lake.
#2005–007: April 9 and 13, 2005, Roque Bluffs, Washington, Judy Kellogg Markowsky*, Frank Marenghi*. Independent reports of an Eared Grebe in breeding plumage in Englishman Bay almost certainly were of the same bird.
#2009– 012: May 26–September 15, 2009, Sanford, York, Derek and Jeannette Lovitch†, Andrew Aldrich, Doug Hitchcox†, Phillip Augusta†, m. ob. The second Eared Grebe to be photo-documented and accepted by the committee, this adult in breeding plumage was found at the Sanford wastewater treatment facility. Presumably the same bird summered here again in 2010. Maine’s first photo-documented Eared Grebe was here in 2006; if the same individual, it skipped the intervening summers.
#2012–003: September 16–October 7, 2012, Simpson’s Point, Brunswick, Cumberland, Louis Bevier*, Gordon Smith*, m. ob. Sketches and notes convincingly described this bird in winter plumage.

Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophris)

Completely unexpected was this White-chinned Petrel seen during a whalewatching tour offshore of Bar Harbor, Hancock County, Maine, August 24, 2010. Photo by Jess McCordic.

#1978–001: May 28, 1978, Lumbo Ledge, 3 miles ESE Bailey Island, Sagadahoc, William Utley*, William deBray. First round (7–2). After acceptance of Maine’s first record in 2009, this report (Vickery 1978) was circulated to the committee. Most thought that the description, a recollection provided by two fishermen who observed the bird soaring among shearwaters and gulls, likely pertained to an adult Black- browed Albatross, given its described size and all-yellow bill.
#2009–011: July 15, 2009, off Vinalhaven, Knox, John Drury†, Anthony Hill†. Drury found this bird 3–4 miles north of Seal Island. The combination of duller, dark-tipped bill and dark eye suggests a subadult of the Atlantic nominate subspecies (T. m. melanophris) and one of only about a half-dozen documented records from the western North Atlantic (Howell 2012).

White-chinned Petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis)

#2010–007: August 24, 2010, offshore Bar Harbor, Hancock, Laura Kennedy, Zack Klyver, Jess McCordic†. Photographed during a whalewatching trip, Maine’s first White-chinned Petrel is one of only a few records in the western North Atlantic for this subantarctic breeder (Howell 2012).

Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster)

#2011–007: August 12, 2011, offshore Portland, Cumberland, Josh Delcourt*, Janine Friel†, Kevin McDonagh†. Maine’s first Brown Booby, an adult, was found during a commercial whalewatching tour about 12 miles east of Portland near a ledge known as “The Football.” Records of this tropical species into New England and as far as the Canadian Maritimes have increased markedly in recent years.

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

#2009–022: December 4, 2009, Spruce Head, Thomaston, Knox, Glenn Wiley†. After the flock of at least seven birds found by Wiley departed midday, lobstermen reported two pelicans farther south near Chebeague Island that may have been part of the same flock. These were almost certainly the same as eight birds seen December 5 in East Providence, Rhode Island and seven birds seen December 6 at Hammonasset Beach, Connecticut (Hunt 2010).
#2011–002: January 3, 2011, Chebeague Island, Cumberland, Beverly Johnson†. Two adults were photographed near the Chebeague Island boatyard.
#2012–002: October 14, 2012, Maquoit Bay, Brunswick, Cumberland, Gordon Smith*, John Berry, Peter Vickery†, m. ob. An adult remained until noon.
#2012–007: November 3–5, 2012, Newport, Penobscot, Linda Powell†, Bruce Cole†, Doug Hitchcox†, m. ob. Powell found this adult on Sebasticook Lake.
#2012–008: May 20, 2012, Farmingdale, Kennebec, James Todd†. Photographed from Todd’s home, two adult birds rested on the Kennebec River for about half an hour before flying downriver. Due to the recent increase in records, including multiple reports from 2013, the committee removed the species from the review list in 2014.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

Maine’s first Little Egret was present at Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Cumberland County, June 29-30, 2011. Photo by Doug Hitchcox (June 29, 2011).

#2011–005: June 29–30, 2011, Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Cumberland, Doug Hitchcox*†, m. ob. This was Maine’s first Little Egret. Perhaps the same bird was at Plum Island, Massachusetts on July 10 (Petersen 2012).
#2012–013: July 8–August 18, 2012, Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Cumberland, Doug Hitchcox†. First round (8–1).

White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi)

#2009–007: April 26, 2009, Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Cumberland, Luke Seitz, Derek Lovitch†.
#2009–008: June 10–11, 2009, Biddeford, York, Chuck Homler†, Lloyd Alexander†. Since 2008 one to three White-faced Ibises have frequented the Scarborough Marsh area.

Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus)

#2009–006: April 28–29, 2009, Pownal, Cumberland, Tom Downing, Derek Lovitch*, Jeannette Lovitch*, Danny Akers, m. ob. Seen at Bradbury Mountain hawkwatch, this was a relatively early date and the second consecutive year one was seen here.
#2013–013: June 1, 2013, Milo, Piscataquis, Chris Feairheller*.

Mississippi Kite (Ictinia mississippiensis)

#2008–011: October 17, 2008, Harpswell, Cumberland, Paul Donahue*, George Appel. First round (7–2). An immature passed the Basin Point hawkwatch.
#2009–010: May 31, 2009, Cumberland, Cumberland, Will Russell*. First round (7–2). Brief observation of two birds flying ahead of a thunderstorm. #2012–017: May 19, 2012, Capisic Pond Park, Portland, Cumberland, Rob Speirs*†, Lysle Brinker. Speirs took a diagnostic photograph of this immature kite.

Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)

#2009–025: May 3, 2009, Pownal, Cumberland, Danny Akers*. First round (8–1). A light–morph bird observed from the Bradbury Mountain hawkwatch. #2013–008: September 23, 2013, Harpswell, Cumberland, Paul Donahue†. A juvenile light-morph Swainson’s Hawk was photographed from the Basin Point hawkwatch in South Harpswell.

Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis)

#2008–016: September 17, 2008, Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough, Cumberland, Robby Lambert, Lysle Brinker*. When they repeatedly flushed it at close range, observers noted distinctive features, including the prominent white secondary patch. Probably a regular migrant, and possibly a casual breeder (Gibbs et al. 1991), Yellow Rail is rarely observed or documented in Maine.

Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

#2012–004: November 3, 2012, Berwick, York, Andrew Aldrich*, Ken Janes†. Maine’s second Northern Lapwing.
#2013–002: May 3–6, 2013, Poland, Androscoggin, Iain Stenhouse, Doug Hitchcox†, Rob Speirs†, Louis Bevier*†, m. ob. These were part of an incursion of lapwings into eastern North America over the winter of 2012–2013. Prior to these, Maine’s only previous record is a December 1927 specimen from Square Lake, Aroostook, that also coincided with a major incursion into the Northeast (Palmer 1949).

Wilson’s Plover (Charadrius wilsonia)

#2010–003: May 18–21, 2010, Georgetown, Sagadahoc, Ben Simpson, Mike Fahay*†, Luke Seitz†, m. ob. Found by seasonal Piping Plover biologist Simpson at Reid State Park. Photos show worn wing coverts and little to no black on the collar and head band, suggesting a one-year-old bird of unknown sex.

Long-tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus)

#2008–014: September 14, 2008, offshore Washington, Luke Seitz†, Jonathan Mays†, Bill Sheehan*, m. ob. A crisp juvenile was seen on a Maine Audubon pelagic birding trip.

Mew Gull (Larus canus)

This Mew Gull was found in a flooded field at Portland, Cumberland County, Maine, December 10, 2008. Although its subspecific identity was not determined, it appears to be of Eurasian origin, most likely nominate Larus c. canus. Photo by Eric Hynes.

#2008–015: December 10, 2008, Portland, Cumberland, Eric Hynes†. Maine’s first photo-documented record was a bird from one of the Eurasian populations; no consensus on its subspecific (or potentially specific) identity was reached. Size and structure seemed to eliminate western North American brachyrhynchus, but beyond that a definitive assessment (e.g., possible kamtschatschensis as suggested by some or larger nominate canus or canus to heinei intergrade) will likely remain elusive, especially in the absence of spread-wing photographs.

Thayer’s Gull (Larus thayeri)

#1992–001: January 30, 1992, Mill Cove, South Portland, Cumberland, Lysle Brinker*†. The review of the Augusta Thayer’s Gull prompted the committee to formally review this report (Brinker 1992), which now becomes Maine’s earliest accepted record. Photographs showed a darker, more typical first-cycle Thayer’s Gull than the Augusta bird.
#2010–001: January 21–28, 2010, Augusta, Kennebec, Derek Lovitch†, Jonathan Mays†, m. ob. This first-cycle gull found by Lovitch at Hatch Hill landfill generated considerable discussion. Although on the pale end of the Thayer’s Gull spectrum, the committee concluded that the bird fell outside of the range of (Kumlien’s) Iceland Gull.

Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisagus)

This third-cycle Slaty-backed Gull was at Hatch Hill landfill, Augusta, Kennebec County, Maine, January 10-13, 2012. Amazingly, the same individual was discovered in Gloucester, Massachusetts on January 21. Photo by Luke Seitz (January 12, 2012).

#2012–010: January 10–13, 2012, Hatch Hill landfill, Augusta, Kennebec, Louis Bevier*†, Luke Seitz†, Doug Suitor*, m. ob. Maine’s first Slaty-backed Gull, an apparent third-cycle bird, was found and photographed by Bevier on the 10th. Seitz and others saw it on the 11th; Suitor briefly observed it on the 13th. Jeremiah Trimble discovered the same gull (confirmed by photo comparisons) at Gloucester, Massachusetts, on January 21.

Sooty Tern (Onychoprion fuscatus)

#2012–009: July 14, 2012, Biddeford Pool, Biddeford, York, Scott Surner*†. Although most of the dozen-plus reports of Sooty Tern from Maine over the past century coincided with hurricanes, the occurrence of this bird did not appear to be storm related.

Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)

#2010–009: September 13, 2010, Scarborough, Cumberland, Doug Hitchcox*†, Paul Hitchcox, Gloria Carson. Photographed by Hitchcox on the mud flats at the Pine Point lobster co-op, this adult Gull-billed Tern was observed the same day separately by Carson in the co-op parking lot.

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

This Eurasian Collared-Dove, Maine’s overdue first, spent the day in a Falmouth, Cumberland County yard, May 28, 2013. Photo by Marie Jordan.

#2013–004: May 28, 2013, Falmouth, Cumberland, Connie Kent†, Rob Speirs†, m. ob. Maine’s first Eurasian Collared- Dove spent one day in Kent’s residential yard. The continental expansion of this species has progressed north by northwest, bypassing Maine and New England until recently.

Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio)

#2009–023: December 4, 2009, South Berwick, York, Stephen Mirick*†. A gray morph found dead on State Route 236 north of the Great Falls River. #2011–003: January 8, 2011, Cape Porpoise, Kennebunkport, York, Rebecca DeLisle†, Chris Baker†. This rufous morph was photographed in a tree cavity.

Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya)

#2009–014: September 24, 2009, Monhegan Twp., Lincoln, Evan Obercian, Steve Mirick*, Luke Seitz†, m. ob. Observed from Monhegan Island, this Say’s Phoebe spent the day fly catching from its perch on top of a small outbuilding on adjacent Manana Island.

Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens)

#2011–010: October 23, 2011, Monhegan Island, Lincoln, Doug Hitchcox*†, Jeremiah Trimble†, Marshall Iliff, Paul Miliotis. Monhegan’s first Ash-throated Flycatcher, a worn bird largely in juvenal plumage, was part of an influx of the species in the fall of 2011, possibly a response to drought in the Southwest (Ellison and Martin 2012, Farnsworth and Iliff 2012).

Gray Kingbird (Tyrannus dominicensis)

This Gray Kingbird spent a week in a residential yard along Marginal Way, Ogunquit, York County, Maine, October 31 to November 8, 2010. Photo by Len Medlock (November 1, 2010).

#2010–014: October 31–November 8, 2010, Marginal Way, Ogunquit, York, John Berry*†, Len Medlock†, Charles Avenengo*, m. ob. This Gray Kingbird was enjoyed by many during its stay in a residential yard.

Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)

#2009–020: November 8, 2009, Cutler, Washington, Barry Southard*†. A later-than- expected vagrant photographed at the Cutler Naval Station. Once a fairly common breeding species in Maine (Palmer 1949), and commonly reported into the 1970s and 1980s, Loggerhead Shrike is now only a casual visitor in late summer or early fall.

Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii)

This Bell’s Vireo, Maine’s third, was discovered at Green Point, Dresden, Lincoln County, October 7-8, 2012, only two days after Maine’s second was found on Monhegan Island. Photo by Mike Fahay (October 7, 2012).

#2003–003: May 20–21, 2003, Monhegan, Lincoln, Rich Eakin, Howie Nielson, Geoff Dennis†, m. ob. The 2012 reports prompted the committee to formally review this record, which becomes the first for the state.
#2012–006: October 5–6, 2012, Monhegan, Lincoln, Doug Hitchcox*†. Maine’s second and third documented Bell’s Vireos were discovered on back–to–back dates.
#2012–005: October 7–8, 2012, Green Point, Dresden, Lincoln, Mike Fahay*†, Louis Bevier*, m. ob. Glimpsed by many during its brief stay in an overgrown orchard. All photographs showed the greenish upperparts and yellowish wash on flanks, suggesting each bird was the eastern subspecies, nominate V. b. bellii.

Cave Swallow (Petrochelidon fulva)

#2012–014: November 24, 2012, Scarborough, Cumberland, Jason Lambert*†, Two birds at Pine Point Beach.
#2012–015: November 25, 2012, Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland, Ed Hess†. Photographed in the wrack line at Crescent Beach.
#2012– 019: November 25, 2012, Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland, Louis Bevier*, Don Mairs. Observed near the beach at Kettle Cove. The dramatic increase in late fall reports of Cave Swallows since Maine’s first in 2005 resulted in its removal from the review list in 2014.

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides)

#2011–012: November 13, 2011, Batchelders Grant, Oxford, Lindsay Webb*†, Andrew Zboray. While hiking near the summit of East Royce Mountain, observers photographed an unfamiliar bird, initially reported as a Townsend’s Solitaire. The photographs, however, showed a female Mountain Bluebird, Maine’s first record.

Chestnut-collared Longspur (Calcarius ornatus)

#2012–011: June 22–28, 2012, East Point, Biddeford, York, Carole Sevilla Brown†, m. ob. This stunning, if somewhat worn, adult male was seen and photographed by birders from throughout New England. The only previous Maine record, which has not been reviewed by the committee, is a specimen from Scarborough, Cumberland, August 13, 1886 (Goodale 1887).

Smith’s Longspur (Calcarius pictus)

#2011–008: September 21–25, 2011, Norridgewock, Somerset, Trevor Persons*†, Louis Bevier†, m. ob. Maine’s second Smith’s Longspur was a first-cycle immature found in an abandoned sand and gravel quarry; its fidelity to a small, weedy area resulted in it being seen by many. The only other record for Maine is one photographed at Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland, January 2, 1956 (Morse and Packard 1956). (See photograph in this month's Photo Essay).

Virginia’s Warbler (Oreothlypis virginiae)

#2011–011: November 8, 2011, Monhegan, Lincoln, Doug Hitchcox*†. Hitchcox obtained identifiable photographs of Maine’s third Virginia’s Warbler (all from Monhegan) during his brief (< 8 s) observation.

MacGillivray’s Warbler (Geothlypis tolmiei)

#2009–024: December 19–22, 2009, Falmouth, Cumberland, Eric Hynes*†, Lloyd Alexander†, m. ob. Hynes found Maine’s first MacGillivray’s Warbler at Maine Audubon’s Gilsland Farm nature center.
#2010–008: September 12, 2010, Petit Manan Point, Steuben, Washington, Chad “Jethro” Runco*†, Keith Doran. Mist-netted at a banding station, this immature is possibly the earliest New England fall record (Davis Finch, pers. comm.).
#2010–017: September 27, 2010, Metinic Island, Knox, Adrienne Leppold*†. Another hatch-year bird captured at a banding station, and a remarkably early date for vagrant MacGillivray’s Warbler in the Northeast.

Le Conte’s Sparrow (Ammodramus leconteii)

#2010–011: October 24–November 6, 2010, Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland, Lysle Brinker*†, Luke Seitz†, m. ob. Maine’s fifth Le Conte’s Sparrow, but the first photographically documented, was found by Brinker in a weedy vegetable field on a coastal farm. (See photograph on page 37).

Harris’s Sparrow (Zonotrichia querula)

This Harris’s Sparrow frequented a yard at Monhegan Island, Lincoln County, Maine, March 24 to May 8, 2012. Photo by Doug Hitchcox (April 20, 2012).

#2012–012: March 24–May 8, 2012, Monhegan, Lincoln, Jackie Boegel†, Doug Hitchcox†. This Harris’s Sparrow was photographed throughout its stay as it molted toward alternate plumage.

Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheutitus melanocephalus)

#2009–002: Mid-January–April 11, 2009, Hope, Knox, Don Reimer*†, Luke Seitz†, Derek Lovitch†. First round (8–1). A first-winter male frequented a private residence. First record reviewed by the ME-BRC.

Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena)

#2010–005: June 14, 2010, Rackliff Island, Spruce Head, St. George, Knox, Patsy Munger*†, Bill Munger, Mandy Funkhauser. Adult male photographed on the Munger’s deck, stunned after having hit a glass door. This record was incorrectly reported in Petersen (2011) as having been found on June 8, and at Seal Harbor, Hancock. This was the first Lazuli Bunting reviewed by the committee, although one photographed in 1978 at Monhegan, Lincoln, is widely accepted as the first valid record for the Northeast (Vickery 1979).

Bronzed Cowbird (Molothrus aeneus)

This male Bronzed Cowbird in a residential yard at Rockland, Knox County, Maine, October 24-28, 2010 was a first record for Maine and New England. Photo by Len Medlock (October 28, 2010).

#2010–012: October 24–28, 2010, Rockland, Knox, Randy Moore*†, Len Medlock†, Don Reimer†, Louis Bevier†, m. ob. This is Maine’s and New England’s first Bronzed Cowbird. The roughly silky texture of the plumage and greenish bronzy gloss to the rump suggested this male was of the east Mexico-south Texas race M. a. aeneus.

Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)

#2012–001: November 4, 2012, Brunswick, Cumberland, Liz and Jan Pierson†. An adult male was briefly present in the yard of a ME-BRC member who had a camera handy. This is the first Bullock’s Oriole accepted by the committee.

Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

#1980–001: April 3, 1980, Lincoln, Penobscot, Peter Vickery*. Originally detailed by Vickery (1980) and accepted as Maine’s first record.
#1997–001: May 23, 1997, Camden, Knox, Glen Jenks*. First round (8–1). Previously published well-described sight record (Jenks 2000). One member was cautious in light of a 1989 report of a videotaped Common Chaffinch at Monhegan, Lincoln (Duncan 1990) that appeared to show an oriole instead.

Records of this species in the Northeast occur under the cloud of importation centered in Montreal (Ryan 1990), not far from Maine. The pattern of vagrancy is oddly greater than some Eurasian species that occur more frequently to Iceland, for example. The most recent evaluation of these data suggests some records may be questionable (Howell et al. 2014).

Eurasian Siskin (Spinus spinus)

#2009–001: January 31, 2009, Richmond, Sagadahoc, Peter Vickery*, Barbara Vickery*. The committee accepted this sight record of a male Eurasian Siskin among a large siskin flock at the Vickery’s feeders. The same cautions apply as under Common Chaffinch.

Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)

#2009–009: July 7, 2009, Clifton, Penobscot, Jack Zievis†. A black–backed (eastern S. p. psaltria) male joined Zievis’s American Goldfinch flock at his feeders for one day.

Records Not Accepted

Cape Petrel (Daption capense)

#1873–001: June 1873, Harpswell, Cumberland. Third round (2–7). One of the most controversial Maine bird records is a mounted specimen of Cape Petrel in the collections of the Worcester Society of Natural History (Palmer 1949). We located the specimen in the basement of the Society’s EcoTarium museum, and it is a Cape Petrel. This circumpolar species of the southern oceans has no certain records from North America (e.g., AOU 1998; Hamilton et al. 2007). After thorough review of the complex history of the specimen, including earlier confusion as to whether it was collected at Harpswell or on Mooselookmeguntic Lake, Franklin (Knight 1908), the committee decided that the whole affair was shrouded in too much mystery and uncertainty to accept the bird as a valid natural vagrant.

Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata)

#1973–001: June 27, 1973, offshore Cutler, Washington. First round (0–9). This previously published sight record of Black-capped Petrel seen between Cutler and Machias Seal Island (Finch 1973) may have been the source of the AOU’s (1998) statement that the species “ranges at sea…irregularly north to Maine.” The observer submitted to the committee in 2011 a letter suggesting the bird was a misidentified Great Shearwater. In light of this, the committee removed the species from the state’s hypothetical list.

Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma castro)

#1989–001: June 17, 1989, Richmond, Sagadahoc. Second round (2–7). The committee decided that details of this previously published report (Vickery 1991) of an inland storm-petrel were insufficient to rule out other species, particularly Leach’s Storm-Petrel. Many members thought that critical details were lacking, especially for a first state record. Although records in the western North Atlantic occur June to October, most off New England are July to August (Howell 2012).
#2010–018: September 12, 2010, offshore Portland, Cumberland. Second round (1–8). Photographs of this quickly fleeing storm-petrel show a combination of not-completely textbook Band-rumped features (e.g., wide, triangular, white rump patch); one of the observers decided the bird was more likely a juvenile Leach’s Storm-Petrel.

Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis)

#2009–016: October 18, 2009, Dresden, Lincoln. Second round (1–8). Seen briefly in a small cattail marsh by multiple observers, inconsistencies in the reports could not rule out the possibility of immature Sora.

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

#2009–015: September 4, 2009, Petit Manan Point, Washington. First round (1–8). The detailed written report failed to document the color of the underwing linings, the most critical field mark for separation of Black-tailed Godwit and Hudsonian Godwit.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata)

#2009–013: August 14, 2009, Steuben, Washington. Second round (0–9). Details in the extensive written report of an unknown, distantly observed shorebird did not rule out other species.

Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)

#2010–002: February 21, 2010, Woolwich, Sagadahoc. First round (0–9). An intriguing report of a Herring-like gull with yellow legs, a clean white head, and a mantle color intermediate between Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gull was suggestive of Yellow-legged Gull. However, without photographs (and possibly even with them) the possibility of Herring x Lesser Black-backed hybrid could not be eliminated. The late February date reduced the potential importance of the unstreaked head, an oft-cited field mark for winter Yellow-legged Gull, since many Herring Gulls (and presumably hybrids) are already showing clean heads by late winter.

Thayer’s Gull (Larus thayeri)

#1981–001: December 15,1981, Portland, Cumberland. Third round (1–8). Although the description (Vickery 1982) was consistent with adult Thayer’s Gull, most members (including, in hindsight, the observer) thought that although the identification was probably correct, photographic evidence would likely be needed for acceptance of a report of this species, especially one that would constitute an earliest state record.

Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus)

#1985–001: December 31, 1985, South Portland, Cumberland. Second round (0–9). The committee unanimously agreed that the photographs showed an adult Great Black-backed Gull.

Bridled Tern (Onychoprion anaethetus)

#2011–006: July 11, 2011, Stratton Island, Old Orchard Beach, Cumberland. Second round (1–8). Although possibly correctly identified, inconsistencies in the description of this distantly observed tern led most to conclude that other species could not be eliminated.

Kirtland’s Warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii)

#2010–004: May 21, 2010, Monhegan Island, Lincoln. Third round (4–5). Although the principal observer of this briefly seen warbler was an experienced and knowledgeable birder, many thought the descriptions did not definitively eliminate other species; some members were troubled by the lack of observed tail-pumping behavior.

Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major)

#1994–001: May 16,1994, Biddeford, York. First round (0–9). All agreed that the description of an apparent large grackle provided few clues for determining the species.
#2010–010: September 26, 2010, Monhegan, Lincoln. Third round (1–8). Although the descriptions were generally consistent with female or immature Boat-tailed Grackle, most thought that other species, particularly Great-tailed Grackle, could not be eliminated.

Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)

#2010–015: October 31, 2010, Phippsburg, Sagadahoc. First round (0–9). A beautifully photographed immature Baltimore Oriole.

Literature Cited

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The authors can be reached at the following addresses:
Trevor Persons, 206 Bigelow Hill Road, Norridgewock, Maine 04957, email:;
Louis Bevier, 25 Great Meadow Lane, Fairfield, Maine 04937, email:;
William Sheehan, 1125 Woodland Center Road, Woodland, Maine 04736, email:;
Peter Vickery, Center for Ecological Research, P.O. Box 127, Richmond, Maine 04357, email:;
Christopher Bartlett, 16 Deep Cove Road, Eastport, Maine 04631, email:

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