Meduxnekeag River Association

Meduxnekeag Birds

Many species of birds live, year-round or seasonally, and nest in the Meduxnekeag watershed. Other seasonal residents nest elsewhere, as do species passing through on migration.  Some bird species have relatively stable populations; others appear to be increasing in numbers; still others appear to be in decline, although annual variations do not necessarily indicate long-term trends.

A few species appear to be extending their range into the watershed, with annual sighting, and in some cases successful nesting, records over several recent years.

This list includes all bird species with sighting records in the watershed. It is divided into:

            Here Year-round

            Here for Summer

            Here for Winter


            Just Visiting or Passing Through on Migration

Photographs and particular information are provided for some species. Detailed bird information can be found on many nature websites (an especially good one is the [American] National Wildlife Federation’s which has recorded bird songs along with photos and general information for each species)  and in the Audubon, Peterson and other field guides. A more local guide is Birds of Atlantic Canada; a specialized useful resource is the Atlas of Breeding Birds of the Maritime Provinces.

Here Year-round



            Boreal (Less commonly seen)

Creeper, Brown




(Both species of Crossbill may be present at any time of year: they are birds of the boreal forest, eating seeds from the cones of conifers; a few of each species may be more-or-less permanent residents, breeding in the watershed; others will arrive in great flocks either when the cone crop is poor further north, or when it is particularly good here)

Crow, American (Many migrate south in winter though often not very far south)


            Mourning (Numbers appear to be increasing)

            Rock (The common pigeon, an introduced species, thickest in urban areas, less commonly seen in farmland, seldom if ever found in forest)

Eagle, Bald (Population now well re-established after decline in mid-20th C. Most are seasonal residents, but a few over-winter in or near the watershed)

Finch, Purple (Numbers vary seasonally as birds wintering further south pass through)

Goldfinch, American

Goshawk, Northern


            Evening (Numbers tend to increase in winter)

            Pine (Migratory, although some may be present any time of year: seldom nests here, preferring mature coniferous boreal forests)



            Spruce (Less common)

Hawk, Sharp-shinned



            Gray / Canada (Prefers coniferous forest; a tame and inquisitive bird)

Junco, Dark-eyed






Red-breasted (Some here year-round; others migrate)



            Great Horned


            Long-eared (This is a very secretive and seldom seen species: it is believed to be a year-round resident in the watershed, but there are no confirmed breeding records)

Pheasant, Ring-necked (Species introduced in 1920s; established population mostly in Woodstock area)

Raven, Common

Sapsucker, Yellow-bellied (Presence indicated by rows of small holes in bark, particularly of eastern hemlock and apple trees)

Siskin, Pine (May be present at any season, though individual birds not necessarily “resident” as siskins tend to wander throughout suitable range. Prefers coniferous forest)


            White-throated (One of the most abundant woodland birds)

            House (Introduced: numbers peaked in mid-20th century, and are now slowly declining, particularly outside urban areas)

Starling, European (Introduced: first reached here in 1920s. Primarily migratory, but a small number over-winter, and others arrive very early and leave very late)



            Three-toed (Uncommon in the watershed; a boreal species near its Southern range limit)



            Pileated (Largest of the woodpeckers; requires mature forest and large trees for survival. Regularly nest in the Meduxnekeag Valley Nature Preserve)

Here for Summer

Bittern, American (Bird of wetlands and stream banks; excellent at camouflage and seldom seen)




Bluebird, Eastern (Now appears to be increasing in numbers, although slowly and irregularly, after declining precipitously in the middle and late 20th C)

Bobolink (Declining in numbers, in part due to problems in its southern winter range, in part due to habitat loss: bobolink nest in meadows and hayfields; changes in farming have led to mowing of grasslands earlier in the season, when bobolink are nesting, inadvertently destroying nests with eggs or fledglings and sometimes killing sitting adults)

Bunting, Indigo (Nests in thickets and forest edges; uncommon, but regularly seen in the watershed)

Catbird, Gray

Cormorant, Double Crested (Principally seen in the flooded lower Meduxnekeag River at Woodstock, although occasionally further upstream, particularly in spring)

Cowbird, Brown-headed (Parasitic, laying its eggs in the nests of other birds)

Cuckoo, Black-billed


            American Black (Numbers in decline)

            Common Goldeneye (Nests in hollow trees)

            Mallard (Increasing numbers)


                        Common (Preferred nesting sites are in hollow trees and stubs)

                        Hooded (Nests almost exclusively in hollow trees, large woodpecker holes and nesting boxes near water)





            Wood (The most brightly coloured of native ducks, wood ducks are cavity nesters, though they will sometimes use nesting boxes if suitable tree sites are not available)

Flicker, Northern        


            Alder (A bird of edges, often seen on roadsides)

            Great Crested



            Yellow-bellied (Less common here than other flycatchers: prefers coniferous forest)

Grackle, Common

Grosbeak, Rose-breasted




            Great Black-backed

(There are no nesting records for any species of gull in the Meduxnekeag watershed, but the first flocks arrive just as the ice is going out in the Spring and remain until late Fall, mostly in the St. John and the former Meduxnekeag intervale near Woodstock. They range widely in the watershed, foraging in newly cultivated agricultural fields)

Grebe, Pied-billed (Uncommon)


            Broad-winged (Relatively common in deciduous forest)

            Cooper’s (Numbers in decline; no confirmed breeding records in watershed)

Marsh (aka Northern Harrier: frequently seen hunting in open areas)

            Red-shouldered (Very rare in watershed; habitat is deciduous forest)

            Red-tailed (Nest in forest, but often seen hunting in open areas; may occasionally winter here)


            Great Blue

            Green-backed (Very rare; nests in wooded swamps and flood-plain forests)

Hummingbird, Ruby-throated

Kestrel, American (aka Sparrow hawk; frequently seen perched on fence posts, utility poles or wires)

Killdeer (Numbers vary, but habitat changes add stress: Killdeer nest on the ground, sometimes in pasture, often on bare soil where their eggs may be destroyed during cultivation. Adult will feign injury to draw possible predators - including humans - away from the nest. Young are fledged and able to run as soon as hatched)

Kingbird, Eastern (Common large flycatcher; Kingbirds are tough and aggressive, deserving their scientific name tyrannus tyrannus. If you see a small bird harassing a Crow or Raven, it is probably a Kingbird)

Kingfisher, Belted (Kingfishers range along the Meduxnekeag as well as near tributaries and ponds)

Lark, Horned (A species generally in decline, in large part because of reductions of suitable habitat)

Loon, Common (Loons need quite large waterbodies to thrive; most local Loons are in the St. John River, although they are occasionally seen in the upper Meduxnekeag, and in the lakes)

Martin, Purple (Numbers vary from year to year; nests only in nest boxes)

Meadowlark, Eastern (Sparse population)

Merlin (aka Pigeon Hawk. Small breeding population; more often seen during migration)

Nighthawk, Common

Oriole, Northern

Osprey (Many nesting pairs in the watershed, after recovering from drastic decline in mid 20th century)

Ovenbird (Ovenbirds nest on the ground, in deciduous or mixed forest; their nests are domed, like an old-fashioned outdoor oven, and have an entrance on one side)

Pewee, Eastern Wood

Phoebe, Eastern




(Rails are marshland birds; neither of these is common in the watershed, but both are probably present in suitable habitat)

Redstart, American

Robin, American

Sandpiper, Spotted

Shrike, Loggerhead (A species officially designated as “threatened”, it is rarely seen, though may still nest in the watershed)

Snipe, Common

Sora (The most common species of rail, Soras are marsh birds, secretive and seldom seen, but nesting here in suitable habitat)


            Chipping (A bird of edges, gardens and open woodlands)

            Lincoln’s (Uncommon)


            Song (A few may winter over)


            Vesper (Uncommon to rare)


            Bank (Nest in holes in mud, clay or sandy banks: many nest in gravel pits where they may be disturbed by gravel removal operations)

            Barn (Build mud nests on buildings)

            Cliff (Mud nests, mostly under bridges)

            Northern Rough-winged (Rarely found in the Maritimes, but known to nest, on occasion, along the Meduxnekeag in crevices in cliffs)

            Tree (Nest in tree cavities or nesting boxes)

Swift, Chimney (Less common than formerly)

Tanager, Scarlet (A bird of mature hardwood forests, Scarlet Tanagers nest in Bell Forest, Wilson Mountain, and other suitable habitat in the watershed)

Tern, Common (Mostly on St. John River and nearby Meduxnekeag; sometimes in flight elsewhere in watershed; sometimes joining gulls in newly ploughed fields)

Thrasher, Brown





Veery (Nests in deciduous forests)


            Philadelphia (A northern nesting bird, rarely but occasionally nesting in the watershed)

            Red-eyed (A bird of deciduous trees, whether in forests or urban areas; sings throughout daylight hours)


            Warbling (A bird of the deciduous forest canopy, seldom seen)


            Bay-breasted (Not common: nests in conifers, especially balsam fir)

            Blackburnian (A canopy resident in mixed forest)

            Black-and-White (Common in deciduous forests; often feed by “creeping up or down tree trunks in search of insects)

            Black-throated Blue (A resident of deciduous forests, Black-throated Blues nest in Bell Forest, Wilson Mountain and other suitable habitat in the watershed)

            Black-throated Green (A resident of coniferous and mixed forests)

            Canada (Found in mature deciduous forest with dense understory where they spend much of their time)

            Cape May (A warbler of coniferous forest; not common in the watershed)

            Chestnut-sided (Nests in young early-succession woodland)

            Magnolia (Despite its name, it nests mostly in youngish conifer and mixed woodlands)

            Mourning (Nests in dense deciduous shrubbery)

            Nashville (Nests mostly in open conifer woodlands and brushy, overgrown pastures)

            Northern Parula (Common in mature coniferous forests with lots of beard-lichens where it nests)

            Palm (Not common; nests in bogs and open, wet areas)

            Tennessee (A bird of conifer forests)

            Wilson’s (Not common: it nests in the boreal forest; a few may nest in suitable coniferous habitat in the watershed, but it is more apt to be seen on migration)

            Yellow (One of the most frequently seen warblers; nests in shrubs in residential areas, or low growth in old fields and along streams)

            Yellow-rumped (First warbler to return in the Spring and last to leave in the Fall; nests in most types of woodland as long as some conifers are present)

            Waterthrush, Northern (Nests near water)

            Waxwing, Cedar

            Whip-poor-will (Now rare; at the northern limits of its range here, and appears to have declined in numbers in recent decades)

            Wren, Winter (Usually nests in dense, damp conifer stands; despite its name, few if any over-winter here)

            Yellowthroat, Common (Nests in brushy, shrubby areas; very common)

            Woodcock, American

Here for Winter

Bunting, Snow


            Great Gray



            Snowy (Snowy owls are irregular winter visitors, sometimes staying for months; often passing through on their way further south or on their return to the north)

Redpoll, Common (Irregular: appear in huge flocks some winters; entirely absent in others)

Shrike, Northern

Sparrow, American Tree

Just Visiting or Passing Through on Migration

Crane, Sandhill (Definitely not a common visitor, a Sandhill Crane was reported in Spring 2001 and again in 2002 near Woodstock)


            Northern Pintail

            Northern Shoveler

Goose, Canada (Isolated pairs have nested, very uncommonly)   

Heron, Black-crowned

Merganser, Red-breasted







Thrush, Gray-cheeked

Vulture, Turkey (Vultures have been extending their range in recent years, and have been reported in the watershed several times although they are not known to nest here yet)

Warbler, Blackpoll

Waxwing, Bohemian (Most often seen in winter, but may unexpectedly show up in other seasons)

Yellowlegs, Greater (Sometimes seen along shores during migration)



Cardinal, Northern (Cardinals now appear to have established themselves in and near Woodstock)

Finch, House (A western North America native, released illegally from pet stores in New York about 1940, first reported here in the late 1980s, now more frequently seen, probably here to stay)

Mockingbird, Northern (Mockingbirds have been extending their range into this area for decades, but have not become fully established: they don’t usually migrate south in winter, and they are not seed or grain eaters, so Meduxnekeag winters don’t offer much food)

Sandpiper, Upland (Upland Sandpipers have been reported in or near the watershed yearly since the late 1990s. One pair successfully nested near Briggs’ Mill on the North Branch in 2005)

Woodpecker, Red-bellied (First reported in the watershed in 2005; has recently been extending its range into NB & NS)







Community Stewardship for the Meduxnekeag Watershed Region
Last update : August 5, 2005