News & Notes


World Shorebirds Day

Posted on: Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

It seems like every day has been designated for something lately: National Blueberry Popsicle Day is September 2nd, the 4th is Newspaper Carrier Day and who could forget about National Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day coming up on October 19th. But there is one big ‘day’ coming up that I want to encourage you to take part in — but I can’t wait until September 12th for the National Day of Encouragement. This Sunday, September 6th, is the second annual World Shorebirds Day.

WSD logo

As bird (and other nature) lovers, this is a day we should really celebrate. It was started in 2014 with the intention to raise awareness about shorebirds and the perils they face. This year, I want to help!

One of the main events of World Shorebird Day is the “Global Shorebird Counting” where observers submit information about how many of each species of shorebird they see during September 4 – 6. To help you get prepared, I’ll be hosting an evening workshop at Gilsland Farm to teach you how to tell this diverse family apart. More information on that event is here.

Plus, I’ll also be leading a field trip on Saturday morning. You can register for that here.

 

shorebird flock

Whether you can join us or not, I hope you go out and enjoy the marvel that is bird migration this weekend. The vast numbers can be awe inspiring and we certainly don’t want to see these diminish any further. And why not try counting the birds you see (estimates are better than nothing) then submit your numbers to eBird and share your list with the “Global Shorebird Counting” event? Instructions on how to do this can be found here.

-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:

What Would You Like to See at Gilsland Farm?

Posted on: Friday, August 21st, 2015

Recently, on a very hot summer day, I took a little break from the under-cooled structure that serves as Maine Audubon’s central office building. One of the nicest things about working at Gilsland Farm is that you can walk around in what is truly an oasis. You can leave your office and in less than a minute stroll along a vibrant salt marsh on the fringes of what, two generations ago, was one of Maine’s finest saltwater farms.

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Peonies at Gilsland Farm

Here, Portland lawyer and Maine Audubon major benefactor David Moulton had his own personal redoubt. Moulton left nature pretty much as he found it, while also finding fertile soil and abundant space to cultivate one of the region’s best peony gardens. If you visit Gilsland Farm today, you can experience both aspects of Moulton’s legacy: wild land with flourishing native fauna and carefully laid beds of peonies that Maine Audubon’s members each year celebrate during Peony Day. It’s a place where native and cultivated landscapes are gracefully joined in a conserved space that is in the shadow of Maine’s urban hub.

Still, like so many other places where human settlement meets Maine’s gnarly coastline, Gilsland Farm is not without its contradictions and crosscurrents. What struck me that steamy morning was not so much what Maine Audubon has or has not done as a conservation landowner, but what was occurring across the water, on the far side of the Presumpscot Estuary, where the paved ribbon of Route 295 serves as a conduit for much of the summertime automobile traffic heading up and down the coast.

Summertime vegetation muffles much of the car and truck noise, but as I stood at the water’s edge, I couldn’t keep from counting the cars and trucks heading north and south, and I kept asking myself how many were local and how many were carrying passengers — tourists — who were here to experience something else, something that has to do with our most cherished images of Maine: its solitude, its gorgeous coast and interior reaches, and the amazing wildlife that clings to patches of a landscape we like to regard as unspoiled.

I put aside for a moment dark thoughts about the carbon footprint of the vehicular throng on Maine’s major roadways in the height of summer.  I just asked myself, what would it take to induce all those people on the highway to stop driving for an hour or two and come visit Gilsland Farm? Beyond serving as a staunch advocate for wildlife — something accomplished mostly during the legislative session, when most of the summer people are back at home — what can Maine Audubon do to attract more people to its flagship location? On top of that, what can Maine Audubon do to engage them once they’re here? (My secret hope is that engaging many of them might help persuade some to think about the climate impacts of Maine’s summer automotive tourist procession.)

As we enter the final phase of our strategic planning, we are asking ourselves those questions. We’re mindful of the fact that ours is an incredibly strategic location for hosting all manner of wildlife education — from the chance to see wild turkeys and shore birds up close to the teachable experience of seeing renewable energy generation co-exist with outstanding natural beauty — those things and much more are here.

So, after reading this, if you are moved to suggest what you would like to see in the way of programming and facilities at Gilsland Farm, I hope you will send me your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. Tell me what’s important to you about Maine Audubon’s mission and work and what you think would make for a great visitor experience at Gilsland Farm.

- 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.

Action Alert! What’s Going on with the Land for Maine’s Future Bonds?

Posted on: Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Unfortunately, the Maine House of Representatives recently failed to override the Governor’s veto of LD 1378, the bill that required the Governor to release the voter-approved bonds he’s holding — including the Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) bonds.

While the Senate voted to override the veto by a vote of 25-9, the close vote of 91-52 in the House was five votes shy of the required two-thirds majority. As a result, the Governor’s veto was upheld and the LMF bonds remain a political hostage.

What’s next?

Despite this tremendous disappointment, a majority of the House quickly responded by amending another bill, LD 1454, with language that directs the Governor to release the LMF bonds. After the affirmative House vote, the bill flew through the Senate and was enacted by both bodies.

We expect the Governor to veto the bill and the Legislature to vote on whether to override it early in the next session in January.

How you can help:

Please consider sending a personal email, making a phone call or writing a letter to your local newspaper encouraging your legislators to vote to override the Governor’s anticipated veto of LD 1454.

Contact your legislators today!

 

  •  Urge them to vote to override next session’s veto of LD 1454, a bill that directs the Governor to release the LMF bonds.
  • Thank them for voting in favor of the veto override of LD 1378, the bill that required the Governor to release voter-approved bonds.
  • Tell them you appreciate their support for critical funding to protect Maine’s natural heritage for generations to come.

How did your legislators vote?

LD 1454: House roll call/There was no Senate roll call
LD 1378: House roll call/Senate roll call

For more information, please go to our web page about Conservation Funding or please contact:

JenniferJenn Burns Gray

Maine Audubon Staff Attorney and Advocate

jgray@maineaudubon.org

(207) 781-2330 x224

 

Properties Manager

Posted on: Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Location: Based in Falmouth

Purpose of the Position: The primary function of this position is to manage and maintain Maine Audubon’s properties, buildings and all associated structures and facilities in ways that are consistent with the organization’s mission. This position is full time/salaried and includes a complete benefit package

Essential Functions:

  1. Manage Maine Audubon’s properties and facilities in ways that provide a safe experience for staff, program participants, and visitors.
  2. Be responsible for physical development, repair and maintenance of Maine Audubon’s properties in accordance with Maine Audubon’s Land Stewardship Policy. 
    Examples include – Repairs, maintenance and some construction of: buildings, roads, parking lots, trails, lawns, fields, gardens, vistas, bridges, boardwalks, benches, observation blinds and signage.  Perform seasonal tasks including winterization, property clean ups, summer shades.
  3. Manage physical facility support at Gilsland Farm and Fields Pond Maine Audubon centers including utility contracts, plowing, office relocations/reconfigurations, cleaning, etc.  Provide support for major events, activities and rentals.
  4. Prepare and manage the budgets for properties.
  5. Recruit, hire and supervise caretakers, and work effectively with volunteers on an as needed basis.
  6. Work closely with caretakers to ensure that caretaker dwellings are maintained in a safe and habitable condition and sanctuary buildings meet Maine Audubon standards.
  7. Work closely with management to plan, budget and coordinate all property related capital level improvements including the hiring and oversight of all contracted work.
  8. Solicit donations of project related building supplies and labor as needed.
  9. Serve as the first point of contact for new property acquisition including correspondence, site evaluation, and internal reporting and procedures based on the Land Stewardship Policy.
  10. Oversee or support special partnerships and projects such as the Community Garden, Revision, properties grants, etc.
  11. Maintain the vehicle fleet.
  12. Ensure safe storage of files, archives, etc.
  13. Be the first point of contact for alarms, law enforcement, fire, EMS, etc., and work with Management to develop and implement effective emergency action plans.

Equipment:

The Properties Manager is responsible for all facilities and property management related equipment including tractors, mowers and their related implements, hand tools, chainsaws, gas and electric power tools. The PM supports the information technology staff regarding electronic equipment.

Qualifications:

The PM should have a broad combination of natural resources experience and trades related skills and experience in order to manage both the property and facilities aspects of the job. This position requires a strong commitment to safety and safety regulations.  A working knowledge and experience in the major trades including;  landscaping, carpentry, plumbing, electrical and HVAC are required as well as experience working with power equipment; tractors, mowers, chainsaws  and a wide variety of power tools. Project management skills including; estimating, budgeting, permitting, scheduling and oversight are an important component of the job.  The position also requires good verbal and written communication skills in combination with staff management experience.  This is a hands-on skilled position.

A valid driver’s license and transportation to and from work are required.

Physical Requirements:

This position has both significant administrative/oversight duties and substantial physical demands including the ability to safely handle heavy equipment and materials.

To Apply:

Please submit a letter of application, resume and three letters of reference to jobs@maineaudubon.org.

Taking Back the Farm: Purple Loosestrife

Posted on: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

This is the first in a small series of blog posts I’m calling Taking Back the Farm. Each post will focus on an invasive species that is present at Gilsland Farm. I hope you can take some of the information from these posts to identify and eradicate any non-native and invasive species you find on your property.

 

IMG_2276

Purple loosestrife

Native to Eurasia, purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is a terribly invasive plant that can be found across the country. With tall, pinkish purple racemes it is an unfortunately beautiful plant but it can quickly take over swamps and meadows. Without some control, this non-native flower will continue to push out our native flora and create monocultures unsuitable as habitat for other wildlife.

Removal is difficult and requires lots of labor. As with all invasives, there is no single step to eradication. However a combination of tactics and continued effort will keep invasives at bay and give our natives a chance to flourish. The most effective way to get rid of purple loosestrife is to dig it up by the roots. You want to completely remove the entire plant from the area. Put all parts of the plant into trash bags but make sure there is no risk of plant matter being spread on the way to, or at, the landfill. Burning the plant matter is the most effective disposal method.

**DO NOT put this in your compost as the seeds will thrive.

 

IMG_2270

Purple loosestrife removal party

We recently had a purple loosestrife removal party at Maine Audubon’s Gilsland Farm. Employees volunteered an hour before work and we removed as much of this invasive as we could find. Our main goal was to at least cut and remove all the flowerheads — before any went to seed — to prevent the plants currently here from spreading. It will take more effort (more “parties”) but I am thrilled with the success of this first step.

 

IMG_2297

Holy Donuts helped motivate our crew.

Before getting started, do your homework. Make sure that you are able to identify purple loosestrife and don’t accidentally remove anything that should be there. There are many “loosestrifes” (Lysimachia), but only one purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria). Hint: the Lysimachias are all yellow. And there are some plants that can look fairly similar. Wild lupine (Lupinus perennis) is a common roadside flower and blue vervain (Verbena hastata) also grows in wet meadows — but both are those are welcome natives.

 

IMG_2103

Blue Vervain

-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! Speak up for Wildlife: Tell Congress You Support a National Park in Maine

Posted on: Monday, July 27th, 2015

We need your help in creating a new National Park and Recreation Area. Please contact your Congressional delegation members today.

Landowner Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. has offered to donate up to 150,000 acres east of Baxter State Park to the National Park Service to create a National Park and Recreation Area. But Maine’s congressional delegation must introduce legislation accepting the gift in order for Mainers to enjoy the broad range of conservation, recreation and economic benefits the proposed park and recreation area would provide. 

Please call your congressional delegation TODAY and let them know that you want the federal government to accept this generous gift and create a new National Park and National Recreation Area in northern Maine. Urge them to take leadership on this issue and submit legislation.

A National Park and Recreation Area in this location would preserve ecological attributes of particular significance to wildlife. A large undeveloped and unroaded landscape would allow animals to move safely between habitats by creating an important link between the adjacent Baxter State Park and surrounding working forest lands.

In addition, the land under consideration (which encompasses extensive wetlands and hundreds of miles of riparian habitat), is home to multiple rare plants and animals and boasts other high value habitats, including critical habitat for the federally endangered Canada lynx.

For more information about the benefits of the proposed park for wildlife and habitat conservation, go to our website.

If you want to help make this gift a reality, please contact your congressional delegates TODAY and urge them to be leaders on this issue and submit legislation accepting this precious gift.

Senator Angus King 
(202) 224-5344

Senator Susan Collins
(202) 224-2523

Representative Bruce Poliquin
(202) 225-6306

Representative Chellie Pingree
(202) 225-6116

For more information, please go to our web page about the proposed park or please contact:

JenniferJenn Burns Gray

Maine Audubon Staff Attorney and Advocate

jgray@maineaudubon.org

(207) 781-2330 x224

 

Coldwater Fish in the Summer Heat

Posted on: Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

brook-troutIt was one of those infernally hot summer days, when the air anywhere away from the coast was stifling. I didn’t really want to get into the car, but I convinced myself to take a short drive for the chance to ward off the heat by standing in a well-shaded stream.

After rigging up a fly rod and clambering down the steep bank that descends from the bridge abutment, I stepped into the water.  I couldn’t help but notice how cold it was — maybe 40 degrees less than the air temperature. So maybe this was a good idea, I began to think.

I made a cast upstream, aiming for the crease between two rocks, where a small spout of water flattened out and settled into the run. The fly had barely landed when a head poked above the surface and snatched it. Up went the rod tip to set the hook, and a minute later I unhooked the small wild brook trout and slid it gently back into the water. Within the next ten minutes, almost in the same sequence, the scene twice repeated itself.

As I began to move toward another run, I noticed how badly degraded the stream channel was: lots of muddy sediment piled up in the low-water recesses along the bends in the bank, and long reaches of scoured-out clay, slippery as ice and offering not the least bit of cover. Strange to find wild brook trout in a place this trashed, I murmured to myself; it must be the cold water.

Western Maine, although cursed with miles of gouged-out stream channels, is blessed with abundant groundwater resources. The water in the stream I fished comes right out of the same aquifer that supplies one of Poland Spring’s bottling plants, and throughout Cumberland, Oxford and Franklin counties are scores of other streams with abundant groundwater to cool them in the summer months. No wonder the climate scientists have modeled Western Maine as the last refuge for native brook trout in a “hot,” end-of-century climate change scenario.

My afternoon foray got me thinking about the potential for restoring native brook trout in the region’s streams.  If you ask the fishery scientists about restoring Maine’s brook trout, they’ll gladly point out that restoration is really a secondary concern in a state that still contains more native brook trout habitat than any place in the US.  They’re right, of course, but the habitat they’re referring to is mostly in ponds. What about the streams that still have lots of cold water and are the ecological cornerstone for native wildlife throughout the region?

Maine Audubon is already on the case when it comes to stream restoration. We’ve led the effort to make streams behave like they were supposed to, by working with municipal highway departments to replace non-functioning culverts with StreamSmart road crossings. But there’s a lot more we can do. We’ve worked hard to survey native brook trout waters throughout Maine, and brook trout figure prominently in our new strategic plan, as an iconic species that can help leverage landscape-scale restoration.  We’ll have more to say on this subject, so look to future installments of my blog for further details.

- 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.

How to see a Little Egret

Posted on: Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Birding has many interesting aspects. Birds offer plenty of exciting opportunities for discovery — from learning to the basics of identification to exploring the migratory timing or even just admiring them from your window. One of the most exciting aspects for me, is finding a rare bird. On June 8, I was lucky enough to find a Little Egret at Gilsland Farm and amazingly the bird is still being seen (over a month later). I’ve been compiling a few tips for anyone who may want to try to see it.

lieg 1

First, here is a little background if you’re wondering what a Little Egret even is.

We have a few regularly occurring species of egrets in Maine: the larger Great Egret (with a yellow bill and black feet) and the smaller Snowy Egret (with a black bill and yellow feet). The Little Egret is the Old World counterpart to our Snowy Egret. Superficially they look very similar, and despite being called “little”, the Little Egret is actually just slightly larger than our Snowy Egret.

Tip 1: Know what to look for.
Telling the Little Egret from a Snowy Egret is difficult if you don’t know what to look for. The most obvious difference will be in the head plumes of the two. Little Egrets (typically) show two long, thin, ribbon-like plumes, while the Snowy Egrets’ plumages tend to be shorter and bushier. David Allen Sibley has a great comparison of this on his blog.

There are other differences but they are more subtle: the lores (the skin between the eye and the bill) are gray on a Little Egret while they are yellow on a Snowy Egret — this is surprisingly easy to see at a distance so it is a good thing to look for if you have a less-than-desirable view. A Little Egret’s bill is also slightly longer and more dagger-like than a Snowy’s (more like a Tricolored Heron). The Little Egret has a slightly lankier appearance, mostly being a little longer necked. Also, the feet on this individual are a greenish-yellow color, unlike the bright golden-yellow we see on our Snowy Egrets.

lieg 2

Tip 2: Know where to go.
When the Little Egret was first found, it was often seen somewhere within a 3.5 mile stretch between Tidewater Farm in Falmouth and Back Cove in Portland. In the last couple weeks, almost all sightings have been in the marshes between the North Meadow at Gilsland Farm and Tidewater Farm in Falmouth. Here are more details on these locations:

Gilsland Farm (Audubon Sanctuary) — almost all sightings from here have been in the North Meadow, which is the first large meadow on your right as you drive into the sanctuary. There is a small lot on the edge of the meadow or plenty of parking space further down near the buildings. I recommend walking the loop around the meadow to reach the “blind” near the marsh. Do this by walking towards the barn and community garden then stay on the trail that wraps behind the solar panels. The blind is about ⅓ of a mile from the road.

Providence Ave. — This road dead ends at the edge of the marsh visible from the North Meadow at Gilsland Farm. It is easier to drive up to but this is private property. So far, I haven’t heard of any upset landowners but I would strongly recommend using the free and public Gilsland Farm rather than risk upsetting the locals.

Tidewater Farm — Just north of Gilsland Farm, this demonstration garden provides access to a section of the marshes not visible from Gilsland Farm. Charles Duncan recently gave a good description on Maine-birds of how to access this site: “from US1 in Falmouth, turn onto Clearwater Drive (near Walmart) and take the first right, onto Farm Gate Rd. There is a small sign that says Tidewater Farm. Continue through the expensive housing development until you see another such sign pointing left on a dirt road. Follow that dirt road a short distance to its end and park in the spaces on the left. Walk between the shed and an abandoned house along a mowed path with a Portland Trails sign. Go out to the end of the path to get the best view.”

Back Cove, Portland — Although there haven’t been any sightings of the Little Egret here recently, there is no reason to think that the bird couldn’t still be going here to feed. Accessibility can be difficult but it is fairly easy to drive Baxter Boulevard and look for egrets feeding in Back Cove. If you see any, park near Payson Park or there is a large parking lot near the south end of Back Cove, both of which are within walking distance.

Presumpscot Street Marsh — This small marsh occasionally has herons and egrets feeding in it and sure enough the Little Egret has been found here as well (although has not been seen here recently). It is a really bizarre location but may be worth checking: http://ebird.org/ebird/hotspot/L3718383

lieg map

Tip 3: Know when to go.
I’ve had the most luck by looking for the Little Egret on the incoming tide. At low tide there are extensive mud flats for the bird to be feeding on and therefore a huge area to look. One of the last areas of mud to be covered on the incoming tide is located just off the North Meadow at Gilsland Farm, which is why so many sightings are from there. As the tide comes in, the bird spends most of its time further up in the marsh — beware it can be tough to see amongst the tall grasses. Below is a chart that plots the number of Little Egret sightings (as reported to eBird) from July vs. the stage of the tide at the time of the sighting. As you can see, the majority of sightings are during the low-to-rising tide.

 

lieg tide chart 2

In the chart below, each colored line represents a different sighting and the length of the line represents the duration of the sighting. Again you can see that the majority of sightings are during the low-to-rising tide

lieg tide chart (1)

Put it all together:
My ultimate recommendation for seeing the Little Egret would be to sit at the North Meadow blind shortly after low tide and wait. Be patient. While I’ve watched it, the egret never spends much time in a single location; it is very active and seems to go wherever the most fish are. Just because the egret isn’t off the blind right when you get there, doesn’t mean you should instantly go check all the other locations. Be patient. Let the bird come to you.

-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:

Fall is upon us…

Posted on: Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Although the summer solstice — the “first day of summer” — was on June 21st, to some birds that may have been the first day of Fall. All of the shorebirds we see in Maine are migratory. Some of them migrate to Maine for the winter (Purple Sandpipers) while some come here just to breed (Piping Plovers) and then there are dozens that just migrate through the state between their summer and winter destinations. Quite often there are days in late June that we see shorebirds and wonder if they are the last of the spring migrants or the first of the fall migrants.

Using eBird.org we can look at line graphs showing the frequency of reports fora few of these migratory shorebirds to see when ‘spring’ and ‘fall’ is for these birds. Below is a chart comparing Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers and Short-billed Dowitchers — all shorebirds that migrate through Maine.

eBird’s maps and charts can be a very valuable tool for learning about the occurrence of different species in Maine. Here are some easy step-by-step instructions on how to create one of these charts:

Go to eBird.org and click on the ‘Explore Data’ tab. That should get you here: http://ebird.org/ebird/eBirdReports?cmd=Start

  1. We will choose ‘Line Graphs’ for this exercise, which will get you to this page for selecting the species you want to compare: http://ebird.org/ebird/GuideMe?cmd=quickPick
  2. You can choose up to five species. For this lets use a breeding species (Piping Plover), migratory species (Greater Yellowlegs), and a wintering species (Purple Sandpiper). Just type those names into the ‘select species’ and you may have to choose the proper designation from a drop down list. When those three species are under the “Your selected species list”, click “Continue”.
  3. You should be looking at a beautiful line graph (and bar chart actually) for these three species BUT the default is for the region to be set to all of North America. You’ll want to click on the “Change Location” button under the bar charts and then choose “Maine” and “Entire region” before clicking “Continue” at the bottom of the page.
  4. You can refine the location as much as you’d like. It can be fun to compare counties or even hotspots around the state but not that will be looking at a smaller data set which may not be truly representative of that population.
  5. Compare your chart with the one below. You can also compare to this.
  6. Give yourself a pat on the back, grab your binoculars, and go find a shorebird on its ‘fall’ migration.

eBird compared shorebirds

-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:

Less Lawn

Posted on: Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Doug Tallamy speaking at Gilsland Farm. Photo by Doug Hitchcox

Last week, Bringing Nature Home author Doug Tallamy spoke at Maine Audubon. His message was simple and straightforward.  Each of us has an opportunity to improve habitat for wildlife, beginning in the back yard. Tallamy showed how removing non-native and restoring native vegetation can pay huge dividends for wildlife. No one who attended his talk could have been anything other than inspired. I wanted to jump on my tractor and begin waging war on the honeysuckle, barberry and bittersweet that have invaded parts of my farm.

Native animals and plants — as well as the insects that so many animals consume and that play crucial roles as pollinators — evolved together, forming intricate food webs that non-native plants have disrupted. Where habitat is concerned, those food webs really matter. Tallamy showed us some (actually scores of) rather dramatic examples of the differences between the biodiversity present on land with native vegetation and that present where non-native vegetation has become established.

One of Tallamy’s main points can be summarized in two four-letter words: Less Lawn.  Native Maine didn’t have lawn; it had plants that filled the spaces between the big trees in the forest and transition zones that welcomed migrating birds and allowed our terrestrial wildlife to move in accordance with their ancient, seasonal patterns of habitat use for foraging, breeding, and refuge.

Tallamy’s studies show that even modest increases in the native plant cover on suburban properties significantly increase the number and species of breeding birds, including birds of conservation concern.  His marching orders to us were clear:  “As gardeners and stewards of our land, we have never been so empowered to help save biodiversity from extinction, and the need to do so has never been so great. All we need to do is plant native plants!”

Chief among Maine Audubon’s new strategic goals is to increase the number of people who are working for wildlife. If we want to increase the ranks of people who are working for wildlife, there is no better place to begin than in encouraging Maine people to garden for wildlife. Fortunately, one of our most generous donors has given us some working capital to build a program around sustaining wildlife with native plants. So, in the coming months, look for  lot more on this subject from Maine Audubon. In the meantime, think Less Lawn.

-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.