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Christmas Bird Count (CBC)


A CBC is a tally of individuals of all bird species found during one 24-hour period from midnight to midnight within a 15-mile diameter circle.

Counting birds at the end of the year is a long-standing tradition. Every year since 1900, volunteers across North America have explored their communities to identify and count the birds that live there. 


SRLT hosts two central Maine Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) for the Audubon society.

The Unity count takes place on the third Saturday in December, and the Hartland count occurs the following weekend. Data collected contributes to knowledge of winter bird populations, which allows population assessment. Counts are run across North America between December 14 and January 5.  















Wintering Eastern Bluebird in Unity

Trends during recent years have shown many southern species moving further north due to climate change.  Did you know that when your grandparents were young they did not see cardinals or titmice in Maine because these species have only taken up residence during the last 50 years?

Climate related trends seen in 2023 included birds normally wintering south of Maine remaining later.  The highest number of bluebirds that we have ever recorded was an example.  We recorded 35 and they were never even tallied until 2015!  They seem to be solidifying their presence as a wintering bird.
Local efforts like ours across North America support citizen science with results that provide scientists concrete information on how bird ranges are changing over time.  This is especially important today with our climate changing so quickly.

Pine Siskin

The Unity Christmas Bird Count has been held for 27 continuous years!  The weather on December 16, 2023 was nearly perfect for counting birds.  54 volunteers participated with 36 birding in the field.  Although few migrants from the north were found, (a high count of Pine Siskin being the exception), a record high of 52 species was still tallied including the first ever Red-shouldered Hawk, Greater Scaup and American Wigeon recorded on the day of the count.

The Hartland CBC was held on December 23, 2023, also during beautiful weather conditions.  It was the thirteenth consecutive year that this CBC was run.  Twenty-six volunteers contributed to that count, which also turned up three species new to the count - Ring-necked Duck, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and American Bittern.  The later bird was a real shocker as it almost never lingers beyond October in Maine.

American Bittern on Hartland CBC

Thanks to all who helped in 2023!

The abnormally mild weather of December allowed many species that normally depart Maine by late November to remain.  The monstrous So 'easter that hit the region on December 18 also played a role as it flooded waterways and knocked down trees.  It may even have pushed some birds backwards in their migration.  Most notable were multiple Winter Wrensa Ruby-crowned Kinglet on both counts, and a better assortment of waterfowl than we normally find.  


Winter Wren on Hartland CBC

Red-shouldered Hawk on Unity CBC

There are two ways to be involved next year:


1) Join a team to count birds in the field

2) Record birds at your feeder

The Unity CBC center point is just south of Unity village and the Hartland count is centered just south of St. Albans and extends from the south side of Great Moose Lake to the west side of Sebasticook Lake.  You must live within a count circle to be able to count birds at your feeders, otherwise, you will be assigned a territory to count birds.  Your time commitment is negotiable.  

Check back in December 2024 if you want to help!
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Rusty Blackbirds

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