News & Notes: Conservation Issues


Is that a moth? In November?!

Posted on: Thursday, November 20th, 2014

November always seems like a strange time to see insects. It seems even more bizarre when we experience nights that are at or near freezing temperatures and moths are still active. There are only a few moths that can do this, some “good” and some “bad,” but it is an interesting adaptation. Their purpose for hanging around for so long is that most of their predators have already left our area: bats have gone into their winter hibernacula and many songbirds have migrated south. So who are these late moths? Let’s take a look at two that you may have noticed recently:

moth

Bruce Spanworm (Operophtera bruceata)

Our native late flying moth is often considered a pest. It is known for being a native defoliator, often causing damage to our deciduous trees. This usually happens early enough in the spring that trees can refoliate, but when it happens during a drought year, it can severely impact sap production. Luckily, as a native part of our ecosystem, their populations are kept minimal, thanks to natural controls like parasites, predators and disease.

Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata)

There is the non-native moth you could see flying around. Winter Moths, native to Europe, were originally introduced to North America via Nova Scotia sometime before 1950. This species unfortunately does not have any native parasites or predators here and can therefore cause a lot of damage. 

A big problem is that Winter Moths look almost identical to the native Bruce Spanworm. They cannot be identified in the field and can only be separated by examining the male genitalia (not easily done) or, as the biologists studying them like to phrase it: “sequencing the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI) gene.” Winter Moth has been documented along coastal Maine, from Kittery to Bar Harbor:

graph

(Elkintin, 2010, p. 139)

The reason I point this out is that even if you are seeing a moth flying around in November, you do not necessarily have to worry about a Winter Moth outbreak. Many people respond to outbreaks with pesticide use or tree removal, which might not always be necessary and could have adverse impacts on native wildlife.

If you’d like to learn more about these moths, a full life history for Bruce Spanworm, including how it got that funny name, is available here.

Also, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has this article on Winter Moths, which includes information on controlling their populations and a parasitic fly that could be a safe answer.

Literature cited: Elkinton, J., Boettner, G., Sremac, M., Gwiazdowski, R., Hunkins, R., Callahan, J., … Campbell, N. (2010). Survey for Winter Moth (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) in Northeastern North America with Pheromone-Baited Traps and Hybridization with the Native Bruce Spanworm (Lepidoptera: Geometridae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America,103(2), 135-145.

-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:

Double-or-Nothing on Climate Change

Posted on: Monday, November 17th, 2014

Whatever Maine residents felt about the recent election results, there was little to cheer about where action on climate change is concerned. Maine people are deeply concerned about and already experiencing climate change’s ecological and economic impacts (consider the Gulf of Maine’s threatened shrimp fishery, the insect invasions that are ruining our forests and the ticks that are taking down our moose). Yet, as of Election Day, a global climate policy solution was nowhere in sight.

obama china usa today

Chinese President, Xi Jinping and President Obama.

But last Wednesday we were given something to cheer about. The nation woke up to a surprise announcement that President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping had reached an agreement obligating their respective nations to reduce carbon emissions. The agreement—involving the world’s two biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions— has the potential to catalyze global efforts to combat climate change. It also could help protect Maine wildlife (and people) from the worst impacts of climate change. But the agreement will do neither of these things if Congress scuttles the Obama administration’s plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

co2emssionsbycountry

Click on chart to enlarge.

The United States and China have argued for years over which nation should take initiative on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. What had been a largely unproductive discussion changed course last spring, after President Obama proposed carbon emissions standards for power plants and gave states broad flexibility in meeting them. The Obama plan—to reduce carbon emissions by 30% from 2005 levels (already about 10% higher than they are today)—has been met with strong opposition along partisan lines.

Now some of the same objectors are claiming that the international agreement (which does not require congressional approval) doesn’t require enough sacrifice on China’s part. This is a curious position, given that the US and other highly developed nations grew their economies by filling the atmosphere with carbon much of the twentieth century, while the Chinese economy remained largely undeveloped.

The president’s agreement with China has significantly upped the ante. By leveraging his emissions plan to secure a commitment from China to reduce their own carbon emissions, he has ramped up the plan’s environmental benefits and opened the way for even further-reaching international action on climate change. But by tying his climate change plan to the agreement with China, he has also increased the possibility that partisan elements in Congress will succeed in undercutting or eliminating Obama’s emissions plan. It’s now double-or-nothing.

In a high stakes situation like this, every vote will count, especially in the US Senate. Maine Senator Angus King has already voiced strong support for the Obama Clean Power Plan. Senator Susan Collins, who has been a leader on climate issues, has taken a wait-and-see position on the Clean Power rules, pending the end of the public comment period. That occurred a month ago, and now it’s time for Senator Collins to lead on climate change once again by building bipartisan support for the rule and the international agreement that will greatly magnify its benefits.

- 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.

Keep an eye out for these birds at your feeders!

Posted on: Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Have you noticed any change in the birds at your feeders? Many of our summer residents have migrated south, while winter visitors are now arriving and will fill the now available niches. My favorite example of this can be seen with two sparrows: Chipping Sparrow and American Tree Sparrow.

Here is a chart, generated using the Explore features in eBird, showing Chipping and American Tree Sparrow frequency throughout the year. Using citizen science data, we can see that Chipping Sparrows are present in the summer (April through November) and are essentially replaced by American Tree Sparrows in the winter (October through May).

sparrow1

Please click to enlarge graph

Most sparrow species are hard to identify, especially for beginners, but this is a good pair to begin with because they are common at your feeders and not likely to be confused with each other when you factor in the date. Here are a few important field marks to look for:

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow is the perfect example of a spizella sparrow. Don’t roll your eyes at latin names, they are a very helpful tool in learning families (actually genera, in this case) of birds. Spizella sparrows all tend to be long and thin, making them smaller than the other sparrows we see. They also all have clear, unstreaked breasts. Other features are more variable: Chipping tend to show very rich red caps, especially in summer, but other species (Swamp Sparrow) can show this as well. 

 

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrows are superficially similar to Chipping Sparrows, and are currently considered spizella sparrows (though this is probably changing soon following recent genetic work), but have some key differences: they are slightly heftier – hopefully, since they are arctic breeders (a loose example of Bergmann’s Rule). They also look much grayer in the face. But my favorite field mark is their bicolored bill. Their mandible is yellow, and maxilla is very dark, almost black. American Tree Sparrows do show dark spots on their chest, while Chipping tend to be clear, but ALL SPARROWS CAN SHOW A DARK SPOT ON THEIR CHEST. A very important thing to remember with sparrows.

Keep an eye out for these birds at your feeders!

-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:

Protecting Wildlife in an Era of Climate Change

Posted on: Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
BullMoose_CREDIT_DonnaDewhurst

Maine moose are currently suffering from winter tick infestations, which scientists attribute to warmer winter temperatures.

I became Maine Audubon’s executive director in late August. The past two months have been informative and productive. As I have become better acquainted with the staff, members and volunteers of the organization, I have begun to appreciate all the more the power of the Maine Audubon brand and the many contributions the organization is making to wildlife conservation—both within Maine and across the nation.

Through its conservation and education programs, Maine Audubon seeks to bring wildlife conservation to the forefront in the most critical debate facing our generation: how we can craft economically, socially and politically responsible strategies to mitigate climate change. Climate change impacts on Maine wildlife are undeniable.  Our seasons—the most evident measures of nature’s rhythms—are in flux, confounding the life cycles and migratory patterns of the flora and fauna that we associate with the Maine outdoor experience.

The effects of this change are apparent everywhere we look. Beyond the obvious changes – earlier ice-outs on our lakes and longer droughts – is a suite of wildlife impacts. Charismatic species like the Common Loon and moose face new burdens and bird species on our coasts, coastal plains and especially our forests, are experiencing changes in their food webs and habitat suitability. Although some of these disruptions will in the long run balance out, many portend irrecoverable habitat losses and corresponding population impacts –  impacts that will mean a different outdoor future for both Maine’s residents and the legions of people who come here to appreciate the eastern United State’s best place.

Rising sea levels will affect the Piping Plover's sandy beach habitat in southern Maine.

Rising sea levels will affect the Piping Plover’s sandy beach habitat in southern Maine.

I mention the subject of climate change not only to sound an alarm, but to introduce a new organizing principle for Maine Audubon’s conservation and education programs. As I write this, Maine Audubon is about to embark on a new strategic plan, one that will deliver new approaches calculated to deliver on the promise of Maine Audubon’s mission of conserving wildlife for everyone.

Central to that plan will be a bold vision, a vision that commits Maine Audubon to not just be the statewide environmental leader it already is, but to become a regional leader in wildlife conservation through education, citizen science, renewable energy demonstration projects and advocacy programs that mitigate climate change impacts and sustain an iconic natural heritage for future generations.

Although our mission will remain Maine-focused, we’re going to use our strengths—chiefly our reputation and our people—to seize new opportunities and extend our reach to engage people both within and outside the state. I will share the details of our new plan with you as it develops. So stay tuned.

I’m thrilled to be here at Maine Audubon and look forward to working with its many dedicated members and supporters.

Enjoy the rest of the fall season,

- 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.

Yes, Turkeys do Roost in Trees!

Posted on: Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

turkeyAs we head into November there is usually one bird on everyone’s mind (or maybe their plate): Wild Turkey. But how much do you know about the turkey? Below is some background information on the lives of these famous Thanksgiving birds.

Roosting. Yes! Turkeys do roost in trees. They look a little awkward up there, but they are actually very strong fliers and know the best places to avoid predators.

Forming groups. Most of the wild turkeys you see this time of year travel in groups and there is a surprising amount of order within those groups. All summer long, hens keep their poults (baby turkeys) close. As the male poults grow up (larger than their mother), they begin to form their own group, leaving all the hens, who form their own, larger, groups with other hens. There will now be well established hierarchies within each intrasexual group.

WITU frequency TURKEY

Please click to enlarge graph.

Winter Movements. Wild Turkeys are not a migratory species, but do exhibit some minor range changes to take advantage of resources or to avoid inhospitable climates. The turkeys we see at Gilsland Farm are a perfect example: they are conspicuous all summer long, raising their poults and feeding in our meadows, but when winter hits, and deep snow builds up, they leave. They don’t go far though; mostly into the woods where the dense tree cover reduceses snow depths and makes for easier foraging. Here is a graph showing the frequency of Wild Turkey reports at Gilsland Farm through the year (note the turkeys are not reported on the property during our snow-covered months):

Historic population in Maine. Going back to pre-European settlement, Wild Turkeys were prevalent in York and Cumberland Counties. But following the arrival of Europeans and their agricultural practices, up to 90% the turkey’s range was converted to farmland. The reduction in forest land and unrestricted hunting are believed to be the two biggest factors leading to the extirpation (local extinction) of native wild turkeys in Maine in the early 1800′s.

Luckily, much of the landscape reverted and was suitable for turkeys, so an reintroduction effort began in 1942. 35 years of failed efforts with raised birds was eventually bested by using relocated wild birds. Following is a summary by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW): “In 1977 and 1978, MDIFW obtained 41 Wild Turkeys from Vermont and released them in the towns of York and Eliot. In Spring 1982, 33 turkeys were trapped from the growing York County population and released in Waldo County. In the winter of 1984, 19 birds were captured in York County and released in Hancock County, but poaching was believed to be the demise of these birds. During the winters of 1987 and 1988, 70 Wild Turkeys were obtained from Connecticut to augment Maine’s growing turkey population.”

Below are two maps – the one on the left shows the Wild Turkey’s range from the “Atlas of Breeding Birds in Maine 1978-1983” compared to a more recent snapshot of their distribution, courtesy of eBird.org:

range maps TURKEY

Please click on map to enlarge.

We all know about the great success story of Bald Eagles’ populations rebounding, but can you believe the success their competitors for the national bird has also had?!

-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:

Bats!

Posted on: Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

As we approach Halloween you have probably noticed bats everywhere. They are carved into pumpkins, shaped into cookies and decorating cereal boxes. But you probably won’t see bats in the skies this Halloween, as they are getting ready for winter.

myotis

There are eight species of bats that occur in Maine, but this is the time of year they disappear from our skies. Three of the eight species are called ‘tree bats’ and will migrate south for the winter, while the other five species stay in Maine year round by hibernating during the cold months. The locations they stay in, called a hibernacula, are usually abandoned mines or caves. Occasionally, bats are found inside houses and Bat Conservation International provides these helpful instructions if there’s a bat in your house.

The other reason you may not see bats on Halloween is a scary one: they really are disappearing. A disease called White-Nose Syndrome has been spreading in caves across the United States, causing high mortality in bats. An estimated 5.7 million bats have died from contracting the disease. White-Nose Syndrome was first detected in a New York cave in 2006 and was confirmed in Maine for the first time in 2010. Below is a map, updated in September, of all the locations where White-Nose is present.

unnamed

As a result of these steep declines in their population, three species of bats have been proposed listing under the Maine Endangered Species Act. That press release is available here. There are lots of resources available online for you to learn more about bats and how you can help them. A great place to start is this Bat House Builder’s Handbook, and this manual from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife: a Homeowner’s Guide to Bats.

-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:

Late Hummer at Gilsland Farm!

Posted on: Friday, October 17th, 2014

Remember the October 1 post about keeping your hummingbird feeders up in hopes of attracting a rare hummingbird? The post that said: “Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have vacated the state by the second week of October.” Well, we kept our feeders up at Gilsland Farm and we had a hummingbird here yesterday!

Derek Lovitch of the Freeport Wild Bird Supply received a report of a hummingbird around the community gardens on Tuesday and he and I were able to relocate the bird on Thursday afternoon.

unnamed

We spotted the bird feeding on the few remaining flowers in the garden and it was clearly an Archilochus-type hummingbird, which on October 16 we’d hope for Black-chinned Hummingbird (an overdue first state record!). Wrong… It was a Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

unnamed (1)

When the hummer perched it was easier to see that the primaries (outer flight feathers) all had a tapered and fairly slender look. A Black-chinned Hummingbird has broad, almost club-looking primaries. Also, the bill was short and mostly straight: good for Ruby-throated, bad for Black-chinned.

I’ll bet the next hummingbird report this year is a ‘good’ one. So keep those feeders up and please let us know if you see one!

-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:

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Audubon to Install New Solar System at Gilsland Farm Headquarters

Posted on: Thursday, October 16th, 2014

MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Release

October 16, 2014

Contact: Michelle Smith, Communications Manager
msmith@maineaudubon.org
(207) 781-2330 x209
Mobile: (207) 838-0511

 

Maine Audubon to Install New Solar System at Gilsland Farm Headquarters
Installation will offset 37 tons of carbon emissions each year

Falmouth – Maine Audubon announced this week that it has partnered with Revision Energy to install a 42 kW solar system at its Gilsland Farm headquarters in Falmouth. The solar installation will produce an average of 74,000 kWh of electricity each year and will be the largest array of solar panels installed by a conservation organization in the state. The installation will consist of six solar trackers (for a total of 144 panels) and a rooftop array (composed of 24 panels) on the Environmental Center. The system will provide roughly 84% of Gilsland Farm’s electricity. Installation of the solar system is expected to begin on October 27 and completed before the end of the year.

The solar installation is connected to the electricity grid and will feed back energy when more electricity is produced than the facility is able to use. Maine Audubon will receive credit for excess generation. The six solar trackers (manufactured by AllSun of Vermont) use GPS technology to move throughout the course of the day and year to follow the sun, which provides up to 40% more electricity than a fixed array system. The first six years of operation are expected to offset 222 tons of carbon emissions, which is equivalent to 238,453 pounds of coal burned.

The total cost of the system is $238,761. Maine Audubon has partnered with Moody’s Collision Centers, who will pay for the equipment and installation of the project. The renewable energy project allows Moody’s to qualify for federal income tax incentives (as a nonprofit, Maine Audubon does not qualify for these credits). As part of the power purchase agreement between the two organizations, Maine Audubon will buy electricity from Moody’s for the next six years. At the end of the six year period, Maine Audubon has the option to buy the solar installation. Moody’s will be able to recoup its costs through electricity payments, depreciation, federal tax credits and the repayment cost of the system.

The solar installation is a continuing story of the organization’s dedication to investing in the latest renewable energy technology. In 1976, Maine Audubon installed early experimental solar panels on its administrative building. In 1996, the new Environmental Center was built with passive solar panels and a geothermal heating system. Now, twenty years later, the organization is committed to investing in the latest solar panel technology.

“Climate change is the number one threat to wildlife and habitat in Maine,” noted Charles Gauvin, Maine Audubon executive director. “As the state’s largest wildlife conservation organization, we must take action to reduce carbon emissions.” In addition to lessening its carbon impact, the organization will incorporate the solar installation into its youth and adult programming. The organization plans to unveil the project with an open house in early 2015.

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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 in the state, 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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“SKUA!!” Another great pelagic trip!

Posted on: Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
Great Skua

Great Skua

Any pelagic trip that you get to yell “SKUA!!” is a great trip in my book. Skuas are essentially gulls on steroids; large, aggressive and quite often very hard to find. In 2013, it seemed unbelievable when we tallied multiples of both Great and South Polar Skua. Planning the 2014 trip to go in the same area during the same window of time, we crossed our fingers and departed just before sunrise on September 20.

Winds out of the southwest helped put birds in the air: a tight flock of Great Shearwaters crossed our path as soon as we hit deep water. This flock put on a great show and our chumming helped bring in a handful of Pomarine Jaegers, a surprise this early in the trip.

Pomarine Jaeger

Pomarine Jaeger

Then it happened: “SKUA!!” was shouted and the chase was on. What sets apart this pelagic trip from any other I’ve been on is the boat: Bar Harbor Whale Watching Company’s Friendship V is a jet powered catamaran that can do 30 kts with ease, which becomes very useful when you are chasing down skuas. At one point in this first chase we were travelling 32 mph and barely gaining on the bird. Finally getting close enough, we were able to see the overall rich-brown tones, golden flecks on the back and larger heavier bill – all clear field marks for Great Skua.

South Polar Skua

South Polar Skua

Within the next hour and a half, a second skua was spotted. This one eventually settled on the water and our expert chummer was able to bring it in with offerings of deliciously smelly fish. Luckily, this was an adult South Polar Skua, with completing wing molt and showing gray-brown coloration overall.

During the return trip we had to face into the wind (and 6 foot waves) which lowered our detection rate of birds. Many thanks to our great captain for doing an outstanding job maneuvering the Friendship V in those waves.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Here is a complete list of birds (and totals) from the trip:

  • Common Eider (200)
  • White-winged Scoter (3)
  • Black Scoter (9)
  • Common Loon (4)
  • Northern Fulmar (4)
  • Great Shearwater (201)
  • Sooty Shearwater (1)
  • Manx Shearwater (2)
  • Wilson’s Storm-Petrel (18)
  • Leach’s Storm-Petrel (8)
  • storm-petrel sp. (3)
  • Northern Gannet (34)
  • Double-crested Cormorant (17)
  • Bald Eagle (2)
  • Red Phalarope (1)
  • Great Skua (1)
  • South Polar Skua (1)
  • skua sp. (1)
  • Pomarine Jaeger (18)
  • Razorbill (7)
  • large alcid sp. (1)
  • Black Guillemot (2)
  • Atlantic Puffin (16)
  • Black-legged Kittiwake (1)
  • Laughing Gull (1)
  • Ring-billed Gull (7)
  • Herring Gull (442)
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (2)
  • Great Black-backed Gull (569)
  • Common Tern (1)
  • Merlin (1)

    Mammals:

  • Atlantic White-sided Dolphin
  • Harbor Porpoise
  • Minke Whale
  • Harbor Seal

-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:

How late in the year should we keep our feeders up to attract hummingbirds?

Posted on: Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Beginning as early as August, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds start migrating south, timing their movements with peak flowering times of jewelweed. So how late should we keep our feeders up to attract hummingbirds?

Looking at a line graph of hummingbirds’ frequency in Maine, we can see that the majority of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (RTHU) have vacated the state by the second week of October. There is one very interesting record of a RTHU in November; a bird that was apparently blown north after the passage of a hurricane.

graph 1

 

That would be be too easy of an answer, though; instead I recommend leaving your hummingbird feeders up until they are frozen (maybe the day before they would be frozen to avoid damage, but you get the point). This is because in the late fall we occasionally see western hummingbirds that fly east, rather than south. These vagrant hummingbirds will find themselves in an area with few-to-no natural foods and will target the few feeders are still available.

Rufous Hummingbird - Biddeford, ME - 26 Oct 2012

Rufous Hummingbird – Biddeford, ME – 26 Oct 2012

Rufous Hummingbirds have actually had a fairly remarkable change in their wintering range, to the point where they have become regular winter residents in the east. A technical explanation of this is available by clicking HERE>> 

 Calliope Hummingbird - first record for New Hampshire - 29 Oct 2014

Calliope Hummingbird – first record for New Hampshire – 29 Oct 2014

Rufous, Allens, and Calliope Hummingbirds are in different genera than our typical Ruby-throated Hummingbird so you will probably recognize them as looking different (smaller with more red tones). So keep your feeders up this fall and make sure to let us know if you are seeing any hummers after mid-October!

-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: