Birders tally almost 5,000 birds in annual Christmas count

Jan 13, 2019
Courtesy of: Betsy Headley Evening grosbeaks seen during the annual Christmas bird count Dec. 29, 2018.

On Dec. 29, 29 volunteers conducted the 2018 Christmas Bird Count for the Belfast sector, sponsored by Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition.

They divided up the territory, a 15-mile-diameter circle from Belfast Bay to Stockton Springs, Frankfort , Monroe and Waldo, with Mt. Waldo as its center. Watchers combed their sections all day, tallying birds by species. For once, the weather was mild and partly sunny, and, according to a BBWC press release, participants didn’t feel threatened to be out all day.

Results added up to 61 species seen, totaling 4,962 individual birds, 1,189 of which were herring gulls. A detailed list is available online at

Some less common sightings on land included a northern shrike, northern mockingbird, Carolina wren, two northern flickers, two Cooper's hawks, and 23 evening grosbeaks.

On the bay, watchers tallied a peregrine falcon, a kingfisher, two wood ducks, two great black-backed gulls, two black guillemots, five razorbills, and six red-throated loons. Partridges were seen — but not in a pear tree!

The Christmas Bird Count began in 1900, aiming to reverse the trend of going out on Christmas Day and shooting birds. It caught on, never missing a year of the 20th century and still continuing — now happening all over the world.

Maine has 29 count circles, with individual counts scheduled on different days between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5, to allow participation in more than one count.

To join the team, contact Seth Benz at


A northern shrike photographed during the Dec. 29, 2018, annual bird count. (Courtesy of: Betsy Headley)
A red-tailed hawk was among nearly 5,000 birds counted in the annual Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition-led Christmas bird count last month. (Courtesy of: Betsy Headley)
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