For Immediate Release
December 9, 2014
Contact: Michelle Smith, Communications & Marketing Manager
(207) 781-2330 x209
Mobile: (207) 838-0511
Maine Audubon to Participate in 115th Annual Christmas Bird Count
Annual bird survey helps to shape national conservation policy
Falmouth – Maine Audubon invites experienced volunteers across the state to participate in the longest-running citizen science survey in the world, the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Between December 14, 2014 and January 5, 2015, hundreds of participants in Maine (and thousands across the Western Hemisphere) will brave inclement weather to help scientists assess and guide significant conservation efforts at a scale they could not accomplish alone. Maine Audubon will hold the CBC in the greater Portland area on Sunday, December 14; in the Orono-Old Town area on Saturday, December 20; and in the Bangor-Bucksport area on January 3, 2015.
Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count produces the most comprehensive data set depicting the fluctuation, range and movement of bird populations across the continent. Scientists rely on this trend data to better understand how birds and the environment are faring and what needs to be done to protect them. The Maine bird count contributes to this vast volunteer network and continues a holiday tradition that stretches back over 100 years.
“The Audubon Christmas Bird Count harnesses volunteer power to gather knowledge that shapes conservation policy across the country,” noted Maine Audubon’s Doug Hitchcox, staff naturalist and coordinator of the Maine Christmas Bird Count. “Christmas Bird Count data is becoming increasingly important not only in documenting current climate change but in predicting the future effects of climate change on Maine and North American bird populations. If we know what to expect, we can start taking action now to do something about it.”
Volunteer contributions to the CBC is what enabled National Audubon scientists to predict how climate change will alter the geographical ranges of North American bird species in a recent groundbreaking study. Released this past fall, the study found that 314 North American bird species (including 50 in Maine) are at risk because of climate change, which means they could potentially lose more than 50% of their range by 2080.
Because of the CBC, we also know that Maine is seeing more bird species in the winter that were traditionally found further south. Going back nearly forty years, it was exceptional to see a Carolina Wren or Red-bellied Woodpecker in Maine – now we see them regularly as far north as Rockland. Eastern Bluebirds have long been a breeding bird in Maine, but it was only in 1992 that they were first observed here during a Christmas Count. Since then, they have been seen almost annually with each year usually exceeding the prior. One Eastern Bluebird was spotted in 1992; last year, there were 336 bluebirds reported during the Christmas Count in Maine.
“Even if you can’t participate in this year’s count, you can help by filling your backyard feeders,” said Hitchcox. “This will help counters observe more species.” For more information, or to participate in year’s Christmas Bird Count, please contact Doug Hitchcox at [email protected] or call (207) 781-2330 x237.
About Maine Audubon
Maine Audubon’s science-based approach to conservation, education and advocacy advances wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation in Maine. Our citizen science programs connect Maine people to engaging volunteer opportunities that make meaningful contributions to conservation research. The largest Maine-based wildlife conservation organization, Maine Audubon has eight centers and wildlife sanctuaries and serves over 50,000 people annually, with 15,000 members and 2,000 volunteers.
Conserving Maine’s wildlife. For everyone.
Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information.
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