New England: Winter 2022-2023

Winter 2022-2023: 1 Dec–28 Feb

Greg Hanisek

Recommended citation:

Hanisek, G. 2022. Winter 2022-2023: New England. <> North American Birds.

It was another mild winter without any remarkable incursions from the north. Not surprisingly, birds that lingered beyond their expected limits were widespread, exemplified by six species of warblers that wintered along an esplanade bordering a sewage treatment plant in Norwalk, CT. Microclimates of this sort are increasingly establishing late records.

Sub-regional Compilers
L. Bevier (Maine), S. Williams (Massachusetts), S. Mirick (New Hampshire), R. Farrell (Rhode Island), K. MacFarland (Vermont).

Abbreviations L. Champlain (Vermont side of L. Champlain); Hammonasset (Hammonassett Beach S.P., Madison, New Haven Co, CT); Manomet (Manomet Center for Conservation Studies, Plymouth, Plymouth Co, MA.); Monhegan (Monhegan I., Lincoln Co, ME); Nantucket (Nantucket I., MA); Plum I. (Newburyport, Newbury, Rowley, Ipswich, including Parker River N.W.R., Essex Co, MA).

Geese through Doves

An extraordinary six Ross’s Geese were at Marion, Plymouth Co, MA, on 27–28 Feb (Moe & Carol Molander et al., phs). The Bay State had reports from two other locations; three were in CT, two in VT and one each in RI, ME and NH. Two Pink-footed Geese were in and around Ellington, Tolland Co, CT, in February (David Mathieu, Jeff Fengler, m.ob., phs), and one was in the vicinity of Durham, Strafford Co, NH, to mid-Jan (Molly Jacobson, m.ob., phs). A “Black” Brant was at Fairhaven, Bristol Co, MA, on 7 Jan (M. Eckerson, phs). Single Barnacle Geese in three counties in MA were the only reports for the region.

Four Trumpeter Swans starting on 4 Dec in and around Northbridge, Worcester Co, MA, were the state’s first instance of multiple birds and were seen deep into February (B. Bradley, m.ob., phs). The only reports of multiple Tundra Swans were two each at Sachem Pond, Block I., Washington Co, RI, on 15–17 Dec (Katherine Figaro et al., phs) and at Goodwin Conservation Center, Windham Co, CT, from 7 Jan–27 Feb (Sara Zagorski et al., phs). The northernmost Blue-winged Teal was in Scarborough, Cumberland Co, ME, to 20 Dec, with two still present the previous day (Marian Zimmerman, et al., phs). A Eurasian X American Wigeon hybrid, found in November in Seekonk, Essex Co, MA, was present to at least 1 Feb. The 243 Canvasbacks on 31 Dec on Nantucket was the highest count in Massachusetts in more than a decade. A count of 77 Redheads there in Dec was high by 21st century standards. There were three Tufted Ducks in MA; the only other one was on Lake Champlain. A Tufted Duck x Greater Scaup hybrid, a first for MA and second for New England, was at Hinckley’s Pond, Harwich, Barnstable Co, on 6–8 Jan (var. ob., phs).

Single Eared Grebes were coastal in Connecticut, Rhode Island and two locations in MA. A Western Grebe found at Mashpee Pond on 17 Dec was a second record for Barnstable Co, MA (Peter Crosson, m.ob., phs). It stayed to at least 10 Feb. Another was present 28 Jan to 19 Feb at Winthrop Beach, Suffolk Co, MA (Justine Hanson, Laura Markley, m.ob., phs). Red-necked Grebes as expected were primarily on the coast and at L. Champlain. The few at other inland locations were almost all in December, with a late one at Lake Massabeesic, near Manchester, Rockingham Co, NH, on 15 Jan (Steve Mirick et al., phs). The only White-winged Dove was found at Beacon Hill Preserve in Branford, New Haven Co, CT, on 7–19 Dec (Dan Barvir fide Steve Mayo, phs.).

Hummingbirds through Shorebirds

Connecticut’s second Black-chinned Hummingbird, which appeared in October at a feeder in South Windsor, Hartford Co, remained to 23 Dec (fide Matt Bell, phs). This season’s Rufous Hummingbirds, all in December, visited feeders in Trumbull, Fairfield Co, CT (Scott Vincent et al., phs); in New Market, Rockingham Co, NH (Marisol Delgado et al., phs); in Millers Falls, Franklin Co, MA  (Bambi Kenney et al., phs); and Hampden, Hampden Co, MA (Dorrie Holmes et al., phs).  The Allen’s Hummingbird banded in November in Beverly, Essex Co, MA, was present until at least 24 Dec (Katie McManus et al., phs). New England’s first Broad-tailed Hummingbird, a hatch year male banded and measured, was present at a feeder in Freeport, Cumberland Co, ME, from ca. 5 Nov–22 Dec (fide Derek Lovitch, Scott Weidensaul, m.ob., phs).

Single Common Gallinules, always a nice winter find, were at Trustom and Wesquage Ponds. Washington Co, RI (Bill Thompson, Jessica Bishop, phs); on Nantucket (Jeremiah Trimble et al., phs) and Mashpee, Barnstable Co, MA (Mary Keleher, phs); and Grondin Pond, Scarborough, Cumberland Co, ME (Marian Zimmerman et al., phs).

A flurry of Northern Lapwing reports exploded in Maine on 15 Dec when an unprecedented five were found in Houlton, Aroostook Co, with three still present the next day (Aaron Beechy, Ashlee Duff et al., phs). The first one was found on 11 Dec at Thomaston, Knox Co (Jesse Weaver phs), and another was present on 31 Dec–2 Jan at Kennebunkport, York Co, ME (Dave Tucker m.ob., phs). In Massachusetts one was at Plum I. on 17 Dec (Tony Baldasaro et al., phs) and possibly the same bird in Ipswich, Essex Co, MA, from 26 Dec to 6 Jan (Miles Brengle, m.ob., phs). Maine’s third Common Ringed Plover, a seasonal highlight, was at Rachel Carson NWR, York Co, on 30 Jan–5 Feb (Tom Aversa, m.ob., phs). A Piping Plover was very late to 21 Jan on Nantucket (Libbie Buck et al., phs). The region’s only Marbled Godwit was present to at least 25 Jan in Chatham (Nancy Villone et al.). A count of 29 Red Knots on 26 Dec in Chatham, Barnstable Co, MA, was the state’s highest in 20 years. A Short-billed Dowitcher on 29 Dec–1 Jan on Tuckernuck I., Nantucket Co, MA, was exceptionally late (Sky Kardell, Tucker Taylor, Michael Carpenter, phs). A late Red Phalarope flew by Andrews Point, Rockport, Essex Co, MA on 7 Dec (Rick Heil).

Gulls through Pelicans

Inland Black-legged Kittiwakes included reports from 19 and 26 Dec at two locations on Lake Champlain, possibly involving one individual (John Peckham, David Guertin), and one at Hinsdale Setbacks, Cheshire Co, NH, on 11 Dec (Wendy Ward, Donna Keller, phs). Diminishing reports of Little Gull consisted of two each in MA and RI, all in December. An adult Slaty-backed Gull was in Provincetown, Barnstable Co, MA,  on 11–12 Dec (Blair Nikula et al., phs). Single Common Gulls (European) were reported from three states. Rhode Island’s third was found on 18 Jan at Colt State Park, Bristol Co (Joel Eckerson et al., phs), with possibly the same bird there on 26 Feb (David Mozzoni, phs). One banded in 2018 was present at King’s Beach, Lynn/Swampscott, Essex Co, MA, from 7 Jan to 20 Feb (Suzanne Sullivan, Chris Floyd, m.ob., phs). In Connecticut, one was found in a gull roost at Coventry Lake, Tolland Co, on 17 Jan and was subsequently seen at nearby locations in Tolland and Windham Cos until at least 21 Mar (David Mathieu, Phil Rusch, m.ob., phs). An adult Common Gull (Kamchatka) returned for a fifth year to Holly Pond and Cummings Park, Stamford, Fairfield Co, CT from 25 Jan–6 Mar (Patrick Dugan, Frank Mantlik (m.ob., phs). Based on distinctive wing markings, the same bird was at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Fairfield Co, CT on 4 Jan (Jeremy Nance, phs). Connecticut’s third record of Short-billed Gull was seen on one day only on 30 Jan at Holly Pond in Stamford, where it joined the “Kamchatka” Gull that was present for more than a month (Patrick Dugan, Aidan Kiley et al., phs).

The annual crop of Pacific Loons, all coastal, encompassed singles at Quonochontaug Beach on 4 Dec and Weekapaug Breechway on 13 Dec, both in Washington Co, RI (Sam Miller et al., phs); Plum I. on 7 Jan (Steph Almasi; and the regional hot spot, Race Point and environs at Provincetown, Barnstable Co, MA, throughout the season (Will Sweet, Liam Waters, m.ob., phs). A Brown Booby was still present on 1 Dec at First Encounter Beach, Barnstable Co, MA (Christine Bates et al., phs). Single Brown Pelicans were in the Stamford/Greenwich area, Fairfield Co, CT, on 1–17 Dec (Aidan Kiley, Chase McCabe, Stefan Martin, phs) and at Trustom Pond NWR, Washington Co, RI, on 4 Jan (Sue Palmer, phs).

Herons through Tits

The season’s only Yellow-crowned Night Heron was present to 19 Dec in Stratford, Fairfield Co, CT in the region’s prime breeding area (Barry Fasciano et al., phs), and a White Ibis lingered until 13 Dec in the same location (Frank Mantlik et al., phs). There were only four reports of Northern Goshawks in the southern tier states; they were widely reported in the northern tier. The wide-ranging and awe-inspiring Steller’s Sea-Eagle offered a viewing window 5–14 Feb at Georgetown, Sagadahoc Co, ME (m.ob.). Snowy Owl reports were almost all coastal. All reports of Barn Owls were, as expected, on the Cape Islands (Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, Dukes Co, MA). The high counts were three on each island (Isaiah Freedman, Chris Duffy et al., phs).

The northernmost Red-headed Woodpecker was a long-staying bird through at least 24 Dec at Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland Co, ME (Emily Baisden, Bridget VerVaet, phs). The season’s only Western Kingbird was at Scarborough, Cumberland Co, ME, on 13 Dec (Sally Pachulski, phs). An Ash-throated Flycatcher was present 11–15 Dec in Durham, Strafford Co, NH (Kurk Dorsey et al., phs), and another was at Spencer Pierce Little Farm, Essex Co, MA, on 28 Dec (Jo-Anne Bagley, phs). Single Blue-headed Vireos lingered to 3 Dec in Canton, Hartford Co, CT (Jamie Meyers) and far north at Bickford Point, Washington Co, ME, until 10 Dec (Evan Strusinski). The only Loggerhead Shrike was at Bear Creek Sanctuary, Essex Co, MA, from 4 Dec–5 Feb (Brendan Burke et al., phs). Fish Crows are now considered regular in small numbers as far north as Bangor, Penobscot Co, ME (Robert Ostrowski). A Boreal Chickadee was an exciting find at a private feeder in Belchertown, Hampshire Co, MA, to 5 Jan (Susan Lancelle, phs).

Wrens through Icterids

The only Sedge Wrens were two on the Nantucket CBC and one at E. Orleans, Barnstable Co, MA, on 18 Dec (Jeremiah Trimble et al., phs). A Sage Thrasher, a second for Maine, was at Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, Falmouth, Cumberland Co on 22 Dec–11 Jan (Sue Malcolm, Doug Hitchcox et al., phs). Two Mountain Bluebirds for the season were both in NH—22 Dec through the season at Great Bay NWR, Rockingham Co (Ethan Maier, m.ob., phs) and 8–21 Feb in Peterborough, Hillsborough Co (Charles Carlson et al., phs). There were six Varied Thrushes, three in MA and three in NH. The Townsend’s Solitaire found in November at Hammonasset remained throughout winter and into March (Scott Roxbrough et mult. al., phs). One was on Martha’s Vineyard, Duke’s Co, MA, in late February and there were three reports from ME.

A Smith’s Longspur was in Hadley, Hampshire Co, MA, on 12–31 Dec (S. Surner et al., phs). There were nine reports of Clay-colored Sparrow, all from the three southern tier states. A LeConte’s Sparrow was a great CBC find at Crane’s Beach, Essex Co, MA, on 18 Dec (Nathan Dubrow et al., phs). A White-crowned (Gambel’s) Sparrow was found on 10 Dec at McKinney NWR in Stratford, Fairfield Co, CT and remained through the season (Aidan Kiley et al., phs). The only Harris’s Sparrow was found on 8 Jan in Turner, Androscoggin Co, ME (Anne Brown, m.ob. phs); it was last seen on 24 Feb.

Two Green-tailed Towhees included Connecticut’s third, which was found on 13 Jan at Veteran’s Park in Fairfield, Fairfield Co (James Purcell, m.ob., phs). It was present to at least 19 Mar, visiting a private feeder adjacent to the park. The other was at Sachuest Point NWR, Newport Co, RI, from 19–31 Jan (Sue Collin, m.ob., phs). Five Yellow-headed Blackbirds for the season included two together in Tolland Co, CT in early Dec (m.ob.). A Bullock’s Oriole, found in mid-Dec at a feeder in Westbrook, Cumberland Co, ME, was present to at least 27 Feb (Dianne White, m.ob., phs).

Warblers through Dickcissel

The northernmost Ovenbird was pushing its seasonal limits on 20 Jan near Orono, Penobscot Co, ME (Deanna Prince, phs); regionwide there were four others for the season.  Nashville Warblers lingered in surprising numbers, with six reports from MA, four from CT and one from RI. All were in Dec except for one to at least 11 Jan at McLaughlin Woods, Essex Co, MA (Justin Lawson, phs), and two that overwintered at the Esplanade in Norwalk, Fairfield Co, CT, where six species of warblers, including a Tennessee Warbler, were present (m.ob.). The warbler highlight was a MacGillivray’s Warbler 10–12 Jan at McLaughlin Woods, Essex Co, MA (Ben Peters et al., phs). There were three Northern Parulas in MA and two in CT. There were two Blackpoll Warblers in the Boston area in early December.

Single Black-throated Blue Warblers were an adult male at Lake Mohegan, Fairfield Co, CT on 17 Dec (Alec Lurie) and a female type in Somerville, Middlesex Co, MA on 22 Dec (Timothy Brown, phs). A Cape May Warbler dined on meal worms for about two weeks in mid-Jan near Auburn, Rockingham Co, NH (Pamela Weeks, phs) and one was at a feeder elsewhere in Rockingham Co on 19 Feb (Brynlee Kimball phs.). Yellow-throated Warblers consisted of two in MA and one in VT, a rather sparse showing. A Prairie Warbler was far north in Perry, Washington Co, ME on 1 Dec (Chris Bartlett, phs); and two were in MA. A Wilson’s Warbler was at Drumlin Farm, Middlesex Co, MA to at least 9 Dec (Matt Kaiser et al., phs). The first December Canada Warbler for NH was at Beckman’s Landing, Rockingham Co, to at least 10 Dec (Steve Mirick at al, phs).

Western Tanagers were in Blue Hill, Hancock Co, ME on 12 Jan (Jonah Levy phs); in Greenland, Rockingham Co, NH, on 17 Dec through the end of the season (Steve Mirick, m.ob., phs); and near Scusette Beach, Barnstable Co, MA, on 7–11 Jan (Bette Robo et al., phs). Another one found in November at a feeder in West Barnstable was present to at least 1 Jan (Peter Crosson, phs). Painted Buntings were at two locations in New London Co, CT and four locations on Cape Cod, Barnstable Co, MA. There were about 10 reports of Dickcissels.

Photos–New England: Winter 2022-2023

A major incursion of Northern Lapwings centered on an amazing five found on 15 Dec 2022 at Houlton, Aroostook Co, Maine. This one was still present the next day. Photo © Ashlee Duff.

A Sage Thrasher found 22 Dec 2022 (here 29 Dec) at Gilsland Farm Audubon Center in Falmouth, Cumberland Co, was a second record for Maine. It was present to at least 11 Jan 2023. Photo © Doug Hitchcox.

A second for Connecticut, this Black-chinned Hummingbird arrived in mid-October at a feeder in South Windsor, Hartford Co, and stayed until 23 Dec 2022 (here 22 Dec). The property owner remained anonymous but the bird was recorded on the Hartford Christmas Bird Count. Photo © Matt Bell.

This Western Grebe, shown here on 30 Jan 2023, attracted many observers during a long stay at Mashpee Pond in Barnstable Co, Massachusetts. Photo © Peter Flood.

One of two found in New Hampshire, this Mountain Bluebird (here on 27 Feb 2023) was at Great Bay NWR, Rockingham Co, from 22 Dec 2022 through the end of the winter 2022-23 season. Photo © James Sparrell.

Connecticut’s third record of Short-billed Gull was an adult present only on 30 Jan 2023, at Holly Pond in Stamford, Fairfield Co, CT. Photo © Josh Bernstein.