Heading into another weekend, I wanted to propose a new set of Maine Bird Atlas “challenges” for you to look for during your birding over the next week. I also wanted to emphasize, if it was not clear before, that a bird’s welfare should never be jeopardized when looking for breeding evidence. While we encourage “confirming” as many species as possible, that does not mean you need to find nests or young. In fact, many breeding codes are available that make confirmation much easier and nonintrusive, especially “CN-Carrying Nesting Material” or “CF-Carrying Food" (or even "FS-Carrying Fecal Sac"). For more, you can read the section titled “Respect for Birds & Habitat” and “Respect for Private Property” in the Volunteer Handbook at: maine.gov/birdatlas
You all did awesome last week, here is a quick update on those challenges:
American Woodcocks - Whoa! An additional 12 blocks had 'probable' woodcocks reported (bringing the total as of 5/3 to 34, up from 22 last week) and the first 'confirmed' record came from 29 April in Sidney when a nest was found. Keep your eyes and ears open for these display flights shortly after sunset.
Eagle nests - The Bald Eagle map continues to fill in nicely with 20 confirmed block. Osprey also saw a jump this week with 28 blocks confirmed.
Nest boxes - Bluebirds continue to move in, now confirmed in 14 blocks, while Tree Swallows got started this week moving into 5 blocks. Keep the reports coming!
1) Rock Pigeon - Non-native species count too! These are one of the earliest nesting species in Maine yet we only have 7 confirmed blocks so far. Watch for these birds carrying nesting material or already occupying nests, especially around bridge overpasses or in other man-made structures. I found my first “nest with young” while walking down the streets of downtown Bangor two weeks ago.
2) American Robin - What a difference a week makes - 15 confirmed blocks in the past week are a clear indicator of what is on these birds’ minds. I noticed at least six nests pop up around Mercy Pond in Portland since last Friday and they are a lot easier to spot now, before too many leafs obscure your view.
3) Eastern Phoebe - Nest building is underway for these species and with their high site fidelity you should check on places you’ve seen these birds before: in an old shed, the corner of your porch, etc… these birds are particularly fond of nesting near human dwellings so you shouldn’t have to go too far afield to confirm this species.