A Landscape of Superlatives

“The Western Maine Mountains region is a landscape of superlatives.” That is how Janet McMahon, writing for the Maine Mountain Collaborative, opened her recent paper describing our corner of Maine.

Golden-crowned kinglet

Golden-crowned kinglet

Those who live and visit here know this to be true. Mahoosuc Bird News periodically focuses on those “superlatives” by highlighting birds (and our other non-human neighbors) of the Mahoosucs. 240 different kinds of birds have been reported in Oxford County. Many travel here hundreds, even thousands of miles in the spring to raise their young. Others, like the Golden-crowned Kinglet, weighing scarcely more than two dimes, have found a way to survive our long winters.

Our area is home to some of the last remaining tracks in the Eastern U.S. which can host populations of large mammals like moose and bear. There are many unique plants and birds. For some, like the Boreal Chickadee which typically lives further north in Canada, we are at the extreme Southern point in their range. We truly live among “superlatives.” So join us as we explore the nature around us – who they are, where they can be found and what we can do to ensure they endure for generations to come.

Now for those Golden-crowned Kinglets - this tiny bird lives year-round in our region. It prefers hemlock and spruce forest. Kinglets are olive-green above and paler below. They sport two white bars on their wings and what I call black and white racing stripes on their head.

When alarmed, the males display an orange patch on the top of their head. This patch can be concealed. Females only show a yellow wash. Because of their size and the dense forests they prefer, they are hard to find. They constantly seek insects to eat in order to survive through long winter nights in Maine.

Kinglets are known to travel in mixed-flocks with other small birds. They may find security following the much noisier chickadees, which scold any threat. To find Golden-crowned Kinglets, first search online and listen to their high, soft song.  Then, the next time you are out and surrounded by a flock of chickadees, listen for tsee-tsee-tsee-tsee-teet-leetle. Once you hear them calling, a little patience may reveal this “superlative” of the Mahoosucs urgently seeking food for the cold night ahead. (Information sourced from www.birdsna.org).


Mahoosuc Land Trust celebrates its 30th year working to conserve the natural areas of the Mahoosuc Region. Visit us at Valentine Farm Conservation Center, 162 North Road, Bethel, ME or atwww.mahoosuc.org to learn about how you can join us for a hike or attend an upcoming event.

Welcome to Mahoosuc Bird Notes, written by James Reddoch, MLT member and bird enthusiast. This is the first of a year of weekly articles celebrating everything birds.