News & Notes


Action Alert! Protect Funding for Endangered Species in Maine

Posted on: Friday, March 6th, 2015

ChickadeeCheckoff 2014 logoMaine Audubon Action Alert

Please oppose eliminating the Chickadee Income Tax Checkoff, an important source of funding for endangered and non-game wildlife.Please contact the Taxation Committee and urge them to oppose eliminating the Chickadee Checkoff.

Details

Part K-48 of Governor LePage’s budget proposes to eliminate almost all income tax check-offs.

This is a voluntary source of funding. Chickadee Checkoff revenues support important wildlife programs through the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund. Together, the loon license plate and the Chickadee Checkoff provide the CORE state funding for Maine’s nongame and endangered species programs. This funding is also used to match federal funds, so the loss would also mean a loss of federal dollars. 16 programs were funded by the Chickadee Checkoff in 2014:

  • Assessing Freshwater Wetlands
  • Heron Observation Network
  • Development of a Remote Sensing Tool for Predicting Tidal Marsh Communities
  • Snowy Owl Irruption
  • Piping Plover Conservation 
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper Conservation 
  • Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
  • Maine Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project
  • Rare Turtle Conservation
  • Bumble Bees: Native Pollinators in Trouble
  • Stalking Rare Damsels and Dragons: The Maine Damselfly and Dragonfly Survey
  • Arrowhead Spiketail Dragonfly Conservation
  • Maine Butterfly Survey
  • Rare Mayfly Conservation
  • Rare Freshwater Mussel Conservation
  • Special Habitats for Reptiles, Amphibians and Invertebrates

Without the chickadee money, these efforts are at great risk! 

Please contact the Taxation Committee as soon as possible and urge them to oppose eliminating the Chickadee Checkoff.

Thank you for being part of the solution.

For more information, please contact: 

JenniferJenn Burns Gray

Maine Audubon Staff Attorney and Advocate

jgray@maineaudubon.org

(207) 781-2330 x224

 

Maine Audubon 2020

Posted on: Thursday, March 5th, 2015
Rainbow over a windmill - John Vogt

A rainbow at Gilsland Farm last spring.

Spring is beginning to peek out from behind the snowbanks at Gilsland Farm. Not only are the days becoming longer, but during a recent mini-thaw, I heard birds singing in the bushes. Our gardens are still buried in thick snow, but that will soon begin to recede, and the ancient cycle of rebirth will begin. As I think of what will happen—soon, I hope—to the white blanket covering our gardens, I am reminded of the line Herman Melville used to close Moby-Dick: “then all collapsed and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled 5,000 years ago.”

With the coming of spring this year, Maine Audubon will be embarking on a new course. Over the past two months (despite the disruption of weather-related office closures!), Maine Audubon’s board and staff have been hard at work on a new strategic plan, which we’re calling “Maine Audubon 2020.”  It’s a bold new blueprint for our venerable organization, one that aims to place us on a path for growth and prosperity, and one that aims to engage a broadly diverse set of interests in wildlife conservation.

As I write this, the blueprint that will be Maine Audubon 2020 is far from finished. We think we have identified some compelling core programs that will motivate people—both within and outside Maine—to engage with us in conserving Maine’s wildlife. But we are also looking for help from people who care about wildlife and habitat.

We are conducting an email survey to gain more information about how we can motivate people to embrace our mission. If you receive the survey, I hope you’ll respond. Even if you do not, I hope you’ll take the time to send me an an email to share your concerns about Maine’s wildlife and how Maine Audubon can do a better job of engaging you in the conservation. Perhaps you’d like to know more about helping wildlife in your own backyard or perhaps you’d like information about wildlife-related bills that are in the legislature this year. Whatever it is, I’d appreciate knowing what moves you – or would move you – to act in support of Maine Audubon’s mission.

Thanks for your help.  Maine is truly one of America’s last, best places, and Maine Audubon is proud to be the leader in conserving its natural assets.

- Charles

Charles Gauvin, Executive Director

Charles Gauvin, Executive Director

Charles Gauvin started at Maine Audubon in 2014. Gauvin brings more than 25 years of experience in conservation leadership, much of it as the president and CEO of Trout Unlimited, the nation’s leading river and fish conservation organization.Gauvin most recently served as Chief Development Officer at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC. He collaborated with Carnegie scholars worldwide to develop program strategies and support in the United States, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Asia and South Asia.

Welcome (but not so charismatic) Signs of Spring

Posted on: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

It’s hard to be optimistic about the arrival of spring in just 17 days when there is another 3-5 inches of snow in the forecast for this evening. However, we have seen some ‘warmer’ days over the past week that presented some welcome (though not-so-charismatic) signs of spring:

Snow Fleas

Measuring 1/16th of an inch, you may overlook Snow Fleas (Hypogastrura nivicola) as dirt on the snow but these tiny springtails (subclass: Collembola) are actually amazing little insects. On warm winter days they crawl to the surface looking for food and can be especially numerous near the base of trees. They are active in freezing temperatures thanks to the presence of an anti-freeze-like protein (I should point out that similar synthesized proteins might be the answer to the perfect ice cream).

snowflea

Snowflea (Hypogastrura nivicola)

Featherduster Agonopterix

Although we’ve seen Pantry Moths (Plodia interpunctella) inside all winter, we spotted our first (outdoors) free-flying moth of the year on February 25 when a Featherduster Agonopterix (Agonopteris pulvipennella) was seen on our Environmental Center’s patio.

agonopterix

Featherduster Agonopterix (Agonopteris pulvipennella)

Woodchucks

Another fun sighting at Gilsland Farm this week was the first report of Chris Maher! Entering her 17th year of studying woodchucks (Marmota monax), she brought out her University of Southern Maine class to look for signs of emergence from the early male woodchuck (but they came up empty on March 2). I did hear that the first Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) of the spring was spotted, though!

Woodchuck pup nibbling (Eric H)LR

A nibbling woodchuck at Gilsland Farm

Robins

Just kidding, American Robins should NOT be considered a sign of spring in Maine. If you want to know why, please see my post from last week.

As you may have noticed throughout this post, there were links to iNaturalist.org. This is a great citizen science database we are using to catalog the biodiversity at Gilsland Farm. Please consider submitting your observations to the project or you can enjoy what others are seeing. And make sure to submit your bird sightings to eBird!

-Doug

Doug Hitchcox Head Shot - please credit  M. Kathleen Kelly (1)Meet Doug Hitchcox, Maine Audubon Staff Naturalist

A Maine native, Doug grew up in Hollis and graduated from the University of Maine in 2011. Throughout college Doug worked at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center and was hired as Maine Audubon’s staff naturalist in the summer of 2013, a long time “dream job.” In his free time, Doug volunteers as one of Maine’s eBird reviewers, is the owner and moderator of the ‘Maine-birds’ listserv and serves as York County Audubon board member and Secretary of the Maine Bird Records Committee.

 

Submit your question for Doug:

Environmental Education Assistants

Posted on: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

We are looking for teenagers (ages 14 to 18) to be Environmental Education Assistants (EEAs) at our Maine Audubon summer programs. As an Environmental Education Assistant, you will have a unique opportunity to develop leadership and skills towards creating a meaningful interaction between children and nature. You will assist in leading activities and games and serve as a role model for all campers.

Maine Audubon summer programs are designed to provide children with a chance to safely explore exciting aspects of the natural world, while practicing ways to conserve and protect those natural communities. To accomplish this, each day is designed around specific questions related to Maine’s ecosystems and local wildlife and habitats. Children will discover the answers to these questions through daily activities, such as songs, nature games, recycled art projects or a low-impact hike or meal, which can lead to changes in how they interact with the natural world.

There are opportunities with both preschool (ages 3-5) and camp (ages 6-11) programs. With either program, we ask for a commitment of at least 1-2 full weeks and attend a training session.

Preschool:

EEAs can work a full day 8am – 4pm or ½ day morning or afternoon shifts Monday – Thursday.

Contact Kim Sanders at 207 781 2330 ext 231 or ksanders@maineaudubon.org

Camp:

EEAs work 8:30am to 3:30pm, Monday – Friday

Contact Karen Arno at 207 781 2330 ext 211 or karno@maineaudubon.org.

RETURNING-Environmental-Education-Assistant-Application

NEW-Environmental-Education-Assistant-Application

Store Coordinator – Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center

Posted on: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Maine Audubon is seeking a seasonal Store Coordinator for the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center Nature Store.

The Store Coordinator’s primary responsibilities will be running the Nature Store, including merchandising, cash out and inventory. This position requires managing volunteers.

Qualifications and Essential Duties:
▪   Retail experience, including cash out, inventory and merchandising
▪   Able to multitask
▪   Canoeing experience – able to lift and paddle canoes
▪   Able to manage and recruit adult and teenage volunteers
▪   Knowledge of basic natural history and ecological concepts
▪   CPR and First Aid certification
▪   Ability to work with minimal supervision
▪   Experience working with children
▪   Friendly, high energy and good sense of humor
▪   Ability to work outdoors in challenging environmental conditions
▪   Other duties as assigned

Physical requirements:
▪   Ability to stand for extended periods of time
▪   Ability to lift 75 pound canoe with another person, carry that canoe 30 feet and physical movement necessary  for putting the canoe up on a rack;
▪   Ability to canoe against the wind and current
▪   Ability to operate canoes, computer and other program equipment

The position runs from late May until mid-September. From late May until Labor Day, the week consists of three, nine-hour days, including at least one weekend day and some evenings. Holiday work is required.

To apply: Please send a cover letter, resume and two references to jobs@maineaudubon.org. Include job ID# SMAC-SC15 in the subject of your email. We will review applications immediately and will accept applications until the position is filled.

Maine Audubon is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
 Any job offers are contingent on a successful background check.

Nature Center Assistant – Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center

Posted on: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

The Nature Center Assistant helps to manage the Nature Store, including merchandising, cash out and inventory. The Assistant will also assist in leading nature programs for the general public. This position requires managing volunteers.

Qualifications and Essential Duties:

  • Retail experience, including cash out, inventory and merchandising
  • Ability to multitask
  • Experience working with children and education experience a plus
  • Canoeing experience – able to lift and paddle canoes
  • Able to manage and recruit adult and teenage volunteers
  • Knowledge of basic natural history and ecological concepts
  • CPR and First Aid certification
  • Able to work with minimal supervision
  • Friendly, high energy and good sense of humor
  • Ability to work outdoors in challenging environmental conditions
  • Other duties as assigned.

Physical requirements:

  • Ability to stand for extended periods of time
  • Ability to lift 75 pound canoe with another person, carry that canoe 30 feet, and physical movement necessary for putting the canoe up on a rack
  • Ability to canoe against the wind and current
  • Ability to physically operate canoes, computer and other program equipment

The seasonal position runs from late May until the end of September. From late May through Labor Day, the part-time work week consists of variable hours three days a week, including at least one weekend day and some evenings. After Labor Day, the assistant store manager works weekends only. Holiday work is required.

To apply:

Please send a cover letter, resume and two references to jobs@maineaudubon.org. Include job ID# SMAC-NCA15 in the subject line of your email. We will begin reviewing applications immediately, and will be accepting applications until the position is filled.

Maine Audubon is an Equal Opportunity Employer. 
Any job offers are contingent on a successful criminal background check.

 

Education & Research Intern (Southern Maine)

Posted on: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Description

Maine Audubon and the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) are offering a joint internship for current students or recent graduates. This internship is meant to connect local (Portland area) research and education projects and was developed from prior partnerships that identified shared goals of these organizations.

Essential and Specific Functions

The intern will support education and research efforts at three sites in Maine and share time between Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center, Gilsland Farm Audubon Center and River Point Conservation Area. The intern will conduct a project focused on monitoring nest boxes at each of these sites and one or two additional sites in southern Maine. The intern will use methods similar to Cornell’s NestWatch program and integrate data with this program. They will assist with an annual report that summarizes activities at monitored nest boxes.

The intern will also participate and support three other activities:

(1)  Educational presentations at Maine Audubon’s Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center (Scarborough, ME)

(2)  Digitizing archived bird records at Maine Audubon’s Gilsland Farm (Falmouth, ME)

(3)  Educational programs and research at BRI’s River Point Bird Banding Station (Falmouth, ME) and Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center.

Opportunities to observe or support other projects (loon surveys, sparrow capture, piping plover surveys, bat surveys, shorebird surveys) are expected and may provide the intern with exposure to a range of field research experiences.

General Expectations

The ideal candidate will have a strong academic record, enthusiasm for wildlife science and education, relevant experience in research or education, a passion for learning and willingness to work as part of a team.  The candidate must be physically able to walk 5 miles over uneven ground while carrying equipment.

This is an unpaid volunteer internship.  Dorm style housing may be available for the right candidate. A commitment of 24 -32 hours per week is expected beginning in May and will continue through mid-August.

To apply

Please apply before March 15, 2015. Email a letter of interest and resume, including a list of three references, to patrick.keenan@briloon.org or mail to Patrick Keenan, Outreach Director, Biodiversity Research Institute, 276 Canco Road, Portland, ME 04103.

Camp Educators, Gilsland Farm Audubon Center (Falmouth)

Posted on: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Description

Seasonal camp educators will develop and teach natural history activities to summer day campers at Gilsland Farm Audubon Center’s 62-acre sanctuary in Falmouth. Staff will supervise and ensure a safe, cooperative and fun experience for campers during all camp activities and help train, supervise and mentor high school volunteers. A low staff-to-camper ratio and the enthusiasm of staff are keys to the success of these programs.

Qualifications and Essential Duties:

  • Have (or working towards) a college degree in biology, education or environmental studies
  • Have experience, preferably at a camp, developing and presenting natural history programs, including nature games and activities
  • Know Maine’s natural history and ecological concepts
  • Be familiar with experiential and adventure education philosophies
  • Be able to communicate with, and be sensitive to, the needs of children ages 6-11
  • Have current First Aid and CPR certification prior to the start of training
  • Be enthusiastic and flexible with a sense of humor
  • Preferably have theatrical, musical and/or artistic talents or interests
  • Successfully pass a criminal background check

Physical Requirements:

  • Be able to often lift objects up to 50 pounds
  • Be able to frequently hike all trails on Gilsland Farm property
  • Be able to use hands/fingers to operate computer and other program equipment
  • Be able to work outdoors in all environmental and weather conditions

Time frame:

The camp season runs from June 15 – August 21, 2015, including one week of training. Day camp runs Monday – Friday from 9 am-3 pm; educators work from 8 am-4 pm.

Salary range dependent on experience and qualifications.

To apply:

Please send a cover letter and resume to Camp Educator Search at jobs@maineaudubon.org. We will begin reviewing applications after March 1 and will accept applications until the position is filled.

It’s Winter in Maine! Why do I see Robins and Bluebirds?

Posted on: Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

My phone has been off the hook lately and most calls go like this: “There are robins (or bluebirds) in my yard! Did they forget to migrate? How will they survive? What can I do to save them?!?”

Quick Answer: Don’t worry, they are fine. American Robins are not a sign of spring in Maine and have no trouble spending the winter here. Eastern Bluebirds have been expanding their range and have become increasingly common in Maine during the winter, especially southern Maine.

Eastern Bluebird (Photo: Doug Hitchcox)

Eastern Bluebird (Photo: Doug Hitchcox)

Long Answer: It is easy to answer questions like this based on my own experiences and observations, but being able to back it up with real data is always fun:

American Robins

First, I always like to point out the latin name Turdus migratorius. Obviously migratorius makes you think of migratory, but it also means wandering, which is basically what robins do throughout Maine winters. They wander around, usually in large flocks, looking for food sources. Any fruit-bearing trees and especially staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) are good places to find them.

Pulling observations from eBird.org, we can quickly create a graph showing the frequency of American Robins in Maine throughout the year (see below). The frequency is the percentage of all checklists submitted that include our species. You can see that this shows American Robins can be seen in Maine year-round, but their frequency does dip below 10% during December-January.

AMRO_chart

The birds we see in the winter are not necessarily the ones we see during the summer; they are probably completely different. I commonly hear people report “Canadian” robins, stating that they look larger. I think in the vast majority of cases, these birds just appear larger because they are fluffed up and trying to stay warm. That said, there is a population of American Robins nesting in Labrador and Newfoundland that are slightly larger (you would never notice this unless they were side-by-side) and adult males show black ending down the back. I would guess that the percentage of these nigrideus American Robins we see in Maine is very low; definitely less than 1% of all the robins I’ve seen fit this description.

Eastern Bluebirds

The history of bluebirds in winter is not a very long one but it is startling to see the change. Inserted below is the results from Christmas Bird Counts in Maine since 1993, showing the total number of Eastern Bluebirds reported on each year’s counts. The increase is dramatic, especially in the last 10 years.

EABL_chart

I don’t know if there is a perfect explanation for this, but I think it is a result of many factors. F

First, range expansion due to climate change. This would be pretty comparable to other ‘southern’ birds that are expanding into Maine, like the Red-bellied Woodpecker I wrote about in January.

There may also be an increase in habitat. This is a tough one, because it may not be a good thing if I have it right. Bluebirds do very well in suburban areas, and suburban sprawl is a never-ending problem that continuously threatens our biodiversity.

On the plus side, there seems to be an increase in landowners developing bluebird trails which increases nesting locations. One factor I think plays a big factor in their ability to stay in the winter is increased food availability.

With suburban areas come ornamental plantings (again, not a good thing as they are usually non-native) that hold fruit late into the winter. Bluebirds convert their diets from insectivores (ground arthropods) in the nesting season to frugivores (small fleshy fruit) in the winter so there is definitely an increase in the amount of food that is available.

What ever the cause, it is nice to see a little more color in the winter.

-Doug

Doug Hitchcox Head Shot - please credit  M. Kathleen Kelly (1)Meet Doug Hitchcox, Maine Audubon Staff Naturalist

A Maine native, Doug grew up in Hollis and graduated from the University of Maine in 2011. Throughout college Doug worked at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center and was hired as Maine Audubon’s staff naturalist in the summer of 2013, a long time “dream job.” In his free time, Doug volunteers as one of Maine’s eBird reviewers, is the owner and moderator of the ‘Maine-birds’ listserv and serves as York County Audubon board member and Secretary of the Maine Bird Records Committee.

 

Submit your question for Doug:

Action Alert! Protect our Public Lands & Prevent Mining Pollution

Posted on: Thursday, February 19th, 2015

MiningMaine Audubon Action Alert

Please join us at the State House on Wednesday, February 25, 2015. 

It is a very big day and we really need your help. 

The Environment and Natural Resources Committee will hold a public hearing on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s bad mining rules

In addition, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, together with the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee, will hold a public hearing on the proposals to split up the Bureau of Parks and Lands and dramatically weaken the Maine Forest Service’s ability to conduct compliance and enforcement activities.
 
Please join us at the State House on Wednesday, February 25 and speak out against the rules and the proposals. If you can’t come, please contact the committee members and share your concerns.

When:
Wednesday, February 25, 9 am & 10 am:
 
* The Environment and Natural Resources Committee will start the mining hearing at 9 am in Room 216 of the State Office Building. 
 
The Appropriations and Financials Affairs Committee, together with the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee, will start its hearing at 10 am in room 228 of the State House.
 
We expect that there will be time to visit both hearings to share your concerns.

Why we need you to take action:

Mining

Last year, thanks to you and thousands of people statewide, the Maine Legislature overwhelmingly defeated the bad mining rules that would have allowed dangerous mines near some of Maine’s most treasured places. Legislators heard loud and clear from you that these bad rules from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) did not protect Maine’s clean water and wildlife.

Unfortunately, the exact same weak mining rules the Legislature defeated last year are back again this year.

Learn why these mining rules are bad for Maine’s environment and wildlife.

Public Lands and Forestry

Governor LePage’s 2016-2017 budget proposes to break apart Maine’s Bureau of Parks & Lands and slash Maine Forest Ranger law enforcement capacity by 90%.

This would leave our public trust lands vulnerable to industrial-style timber extraction, diminish the importance of recreation and wildlife habitat management on our public lands and would degrade water quality in our lakes, rivers and streams.

  • The budget proposes to move Public Lands under the authority of the Maine Forest Service (MFS), but Public Lands and the MFS have very different objectives: Public lands are managed for multiple public uses. The MFS’s focus is forest health and timber extraction.
  • Maine’s Forest Rangers play an essential role in enforcing important environmental laws; the proposed budget slashes their enforcement capability by 90%.

Learn why this budget proposal is bad for Maine’s environment and wildlife.

Please join us for a full day at the State House with hearings on bad mining rules, dismantling the Bureau of Parks and Lands, and gutting the Maine Forest Service’s capacity to enforce its laws.  If you can’t make it, please contact committee members and share your concerns
Thank you for being part of the solution.

For more information, please contact: 

JenniferJenn Burns Gray

Maine Audubon Staff Attorney and Advocate

jgray@maineaudubon.org

(207) 781-2330 x224