News & Notes: Conservation Issues


The Maine North Woods Through the Eyes of a National Geographic Young Explorer

Posted on: Friday, January 29th, 2016

This is the first in a new series of blog posts for Maine Audubon written and photographed by Erika Zambello

Maine birds have always been special to me. I grew up to the sound of laughing Black-capped Chickadees in my backyard, and Common Loons singing me to sleep when I spent the summers in the Rangeley Lakes region. I spotted my first Snowy Owl on the edge of Back Cove near Portland, and woke up early to steal glimpses of warblers as they raised their young near Kennebago Lake. My mother gave me my first Sibley field guide soon after I turned 23, and I’ve been hooked ever since!

Though I left for college, attending Cornell University as an undergraduate and then the Duke Nicholas School of the Environment as a graduate student, my heart has remained in Maine. I am passionate about communicating conservation, and so I applied to National Geographic to undertake four expeditions to the Maine North Woods as a National Geographic Young Explorer.

northwoodsThe North Woods is a geographic region in northern Maine, covering nearly 3.5 million acres and known for its low population, immense woodlands, and amazing recreational opportunities. It is also known for its birds, harboring neotropical migrants during the breeding months, as well as boreal species like the Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, and Spruce Grouse. As part of my grant, I proposed traveling to the Maine North Woods in each of the four seasons, beginning in Fall 2015 and ending in Summer 2016.

Because the Maine North Woods hosts the headwaters of five of our most important rivers, these headwaters and tributaries would be the focal point around which I organized the trips, described in more detail below. As I trace these waterways, I will also explore the conservation status of the region, and what the future could look like for the birds of the North Woods.

Fall: This trip is based on the headwaters of the East Branch of the Penobscot River, beginning above Fourth Lake and continuing down to Third Lake, Lake Matagamon, and the East Branch itself.

Winter: Moosehead Lake is both Maine’s largest lake and the headwaters for the Kennebec River. Exploration here focuses on the inlet and outlet rivers, as well as the land that borders the shore of the lake.

Spring: The Saint John’s River begins with a series of ponds. As part of the spring excursion, I will walk up the river to the very first pond, camping, fishing, and birding as I go along.

Summer: Finally, I will hike and paddle from the headwaters of the Allagash and the Aroostook Rivers downstream, fishing and taking in the local scenery.

 

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IMG_0739Erika Zambello is a writer, birder, and photographer living and working along the Emerald Coast of Florida. She has a master’s degree in environmental management, where she specialized in ecosystem science and conservation. Her love of the outdoors was inspired by a childhood in Maine, where she returned for her National Geographic Young Explorer grant. Erika believes in the power of communicating conservation and exploration, which was the inspiration for founding both One World, Two Feet and TerraCommFollow her adventures on Instagram!

Winter Reading List

Posted on: Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

bringing natureShort days and cold temperatures often limit our outdoor explorations so it is a good time to hit the books. Below is a list of books I recommend for this winter.

First off, if you haven’t read Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home, then stop reading this blog and go read it now. This book does a great job explaining the importance of native plants and their role in our native food webs. Okay, if you’ve finished reading it, here are a few others:

If you want to learn about wild seed propagation, our friends at The Wild Seed Project have a great list of resources here. I’d recommend Attracting Native Pollinators as a personal favorite from that list.

And since you should study your field guides before going out exploring, Butterflies of the East Coast by Rich Cech and Guy Tudor will give you warm feelings during cold nights. Their photos (dorsal and ventral for each species) and descriptions are well presented and the large format makes for a better read inside than companion in the field.

The only thing more important than educating yourself is to teach a youngster. If you have a child in your household go read them Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. Read it again yourself if it has been awhile. Another personal favorite is The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. It’s a great lesson with captivating artwork and makes for a child friendly read-a-long.

Additional recommendations:

Field guides:
Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide – Lawrence Newcomb
Caterpillars of Eastern North America (Princeton Field Guides) – David Wagner
The Sibley Guide to Trees - David Allen Sibley
Tree Finder – May Theilgaard Watts

More for kids:
Trees, Leaves and Bark – Diane Burns
How a Seed Grows – Helene Jordan

-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 Announces New Executive Director

Posted on: Monday, January 11th, 2016

MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Release

January 11, 2016

Contact: Michelle Smith, Communications & Marketing Manager

msmith@maineaudubon.org
(207) 781-2330 x209
Mobile: (207) 838-0511

Ole Amundsen

Ole Amundsen

Falmouth – Maine Audubon announced today the appointment of Ole Amundsen III as its new Executive Director. Amundsen brings more than 25 years of experience in conservation leadership, with a focus on landscape scale conservation, environmental education and finance. Amundsen most recently served as program manager for the national land trust, The Conservation Fund. Amundsen’s entrepreneurial approach to conservation uses market forces to achieve lasting benefits for the environment, balancing conservation and commercial interests.

During his tenure at The Conservation Fund, Amundsen helped communities and nonprofits reach their full potential through strategic planning and investment in trails, farmers’ markets and parks. He has sourced over $20 million in loans to a wide range of conservation groups across the country. One New England example is a $3 million loan to build Boston Public Market, the first completely locally sourced farmers’ market in a major metropolitan area.

Jerry King, President of Maine Audubon’s Board of Trustees, said “I am thrilled that Ole will serve as Maine Audubon’s next Executive Director. As the leading wildlife conservation organization in the state, Maine Audubon is a great match for Ole’s experience as a conservation leader.”

Amundsen also brings a breadth of experience in strategic planning and collaboration. One of his signature achievements was bringing together the land trusts in the Gulf coast to create a vision for land conservation and restoration for the BP settlement funds (after the 2010 oil spill). It was one of the first times that national conservation organizations (National Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, etc.) and local and regional land trusts worked together to create common goals for the conservation of the Gulf coast.

“I am elated to join Maine Audubon,” said Amundsen. “I grew up in northern New England and am passionate about protecting the vital wildlife and habitat in this region.” Amundsen has served on the faculty of Cornell University and the boards of the National Conservation Leadership Network and the Land Trust Alliance. An active outdoors person, Amundsen enjoys hiking and alpine and cross country skiing with his family. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Colby College and a Master of Science degree in City Planning (with a concentration in Environmental Policy) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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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, 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.

Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information.

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Christmas Bird Count Update!

Posted on: Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

The 116th Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) began on December 15 and the results are starting to come in. With all the warm weather we’ve been experiencing, there was an expectation of high counts boosted by lingering migrants. Unfortunately, the weather has been less than cooperative on count days leading to low counts, cold birders, but enjoyable outings nonetheless.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

In case you missed it, here is a great article from Deirdre Fleming of the Portland Press Herald, who followed me and a group of young birders around during the York County CBC.

Results from around the state are beginning to be posted. Here are a few results so far:

And there is still time to join a count near you! Here is a complete list of CBC’s around the state.

-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:

Winter Moths and Bruce Spanworms

Posted on: Monday, December 14th, 2015

Have you seen any moths flying around lately? In the late fall (and even into winter) we often see “winter moths,” especially on warm nights. I wrote about these moths in a post last year but with a mild December we have seen an increase in reports about them so I think it is worth revisiting.

Bruce_

The Maine Forest Service has launched a survey asking people to report when they see Winter Moths but I want to explain the difference between “winter moths” and Winter Moths. Here we have a big problem of common or colloquial names being used and confusing two very different but also very similar species.

The term “winter moth” is a colloquial name for Operophtera bruceata, whose common and more entertaining name is also Bruce Spanworm. This is a native species, sometimes considered a pest because they are defoliators, but they go through natural cycles.

In contrast, Winter Moth (notice the capitalization) is the common name for Operophtera brumata. This is the non-native species (lacking in predators or parasites) that can cause a lot of damage.

These two species are nearly identical and are considered “not identifiable in the field.” In fact, the most reliable way to identify them is by examining their genitals:

(Eidt, 1996)

(Eidt, 1966)

The point I’m trying to make here, while encouraging everyone to report the moths they see, is that not all those ‘winter’ moths are bad. Despite being a defoliator, Bruce Spanworm’s natural cyclical boom years could provide an abundance of larvae that many of our nesting birds may benefit from. So, consider all of our native species (from Bruce Spanworm to our nesting birds) before accepting the need for control (via pesticides and tree cutting).

 

 

-Doug

Literature cited: Eidt, D.C., Embree, D.G., Smith, C.C. (1966) Distinguishing Adults of the Winter Moth Operophtera brumata (L.), and Bruce Spanworm O. bruceata (Hulst) (Lepidoptera: Geometridae). The Canadian Entomologist, V. 93, 258-261.

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:

Gifts for the Naturalist on your Holiday Shopping List!

Posted on: Monday, December 7th, 2015

It’s December and that means one thing: the annual Christmas Bird Count! Well, maybe to birders that’s what it means, but for everyone else, it is a time for celebrating the holidays. Here are some gift ideas for the budding naturalist and nature lover in your life:

 1) SibleySibley Birds, Second Edition

The Sibley Guide to Birds has long been my favorite field guide. David Allen Sibley’s paintings are amazingly lifelike and represent almost all identifiable forms (male, female, juvenile, subspecies, in flight, etc) for each species. The second edition that came out earlier this year builds on that masterpiece.

 

A Little Brown Bat Story

The newest publication from Maine Audubon and Islandport Press, this is the tale of our flying furry friends and their ongoing struggle with disease. A great gift for kids, this book has beautiful illustrations and fun projects!

 

 

 

3) Feeders (1)Bird Feeders

Give the gift of birds! You can help connect someone with birds by bringing them (and other wildlife) to their front yard. There are lots of different feeders on the market with different purposes so think about who you are giving one to and where they live. Personally, I’d recommend the Squirrel Buster Plus – we just added one to our set up at Gilsland Farm and haven’t had a squirrel on it yet!

 

4) Singing BirdsAudubon Singing Birds

These singing toys are great for all ages and so many species are available. Who wouldn’t want an adorable Piping Plover chick for the holidays?

 

 

 

5) Look UpLook Up! Birdwatching in Your Own Backyard

This Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor winner is a great book to introduce young people to birding. Recommended for ages 8-12, this book provides an ‘in’ for kids to get hooked on nature at an age where it is easy to be distracted from it. It reads like a ‘how to’ but takes a very funny and entertaining approach to getting started.

 

 

Come visit us to see these products and more at our Nature Stores in Falmouth and Holden. You can also check them out online!

-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:

Wildlife Up Close: Dissecting Owl Pellets

Posted on: Monday, November 16th, 2015

Who would have thought that a wad of regurgitated indigestible hair and bones could be so fascinating? This may conjure flashbacks of a middle school science class, but if missed the opportunity, consider watching this video for a two minute lesson on owl pellets. 

- 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:

Citizen Scientist of the Month: Batman Logan Parker

Posted on: Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Meet Logan Parker of Belgrade Lakes. Logan is the Engagement Coordinator for Maine Lakes Resource Center and has spent innumerable hours helping bats and studying White Nose Syndrome. Read on for Logan’s profile.

- Doug

The following article appears in the fall issue of Habitat, Maine Audubon’s member newsletter. Interested in receiving Habitat in the mail? Join us today!

Logan Parker

Logan Parker

For the past few years, I have been studying and teaching about our state’s bats and the threat posed by White Nose Syndrome. The drastic decline of our bat population motivated me to advocate for our native bats as much as I could. I built and installed bat houses around the community and delivered lectures to community groups and local elementary schools.

I have also participated in various citizen science projects – most recently I have been working on the BatME project. For my first outing, I surveyed the seven acre woodlot behind my childhood home in Augusta and was awestruck by the species diversity in such a small area.

Bats are subject to a number of misconceptions – contrary to popular belief, bats are neither blind nor “mice with wings.” The biggest myth about bats, however, is that they are common carriers of rabies. This misinformation has unfortunately led many homeowners to get rid of bats that become trapped inside their home. While bats can be carriers of the disease, instances are quite rare – in fact, bats help prevent diseases. By consuming 600-800 mosquitoes an hour, bats can help prevent diseases such as malaria and eastern equine encephalitis.

The best thing people can do to help bats is to take the time to learn about them and to advocate for their protection. If we can clear up the misconceptions and highlight the beneficial services these animals provide, we can elevate bats in the eyes of the public. Fostering an appreciation for bats, rather than fear, will do wonders to help make their conservation and protection a priority.

Learn more about Maine Audubon’s work with bats.

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. 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 Secretary of the Maine Bird Records Committee.

Submit your question for Doug:

Book Giveaway!

Posted on: Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

41XZ2T7E22L._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_Maine Audubon Book Giveaway!

Under Attack! Are Woodpeckers Bothering Your House?

Posted on: Monday, October 19th, 2015

Every spring and fall I can count on daily phone calls from people who are under attack. The damage being done to their houses can cost them hundreds, even thousands of dollars. The noise, that constant tapping…all with no end in sight!

Of course you know I’m talking about woodpeckers, right?

There are a few reasons woodpeckers will bore into the sides of houses:

1) Finding food

2) Making a nesting cavity

3) Proclaiming territory

If they are finding food in your walls, you’ve got bigger problems than I can solve, but here are a couple of my recommended solutions to keep woodpeckers away from your home

A hairy woodpecker where he belongs!

A hairy woodpecker where he belongs!

Solutions:

You main goal is to put something between the bird and the area of the house it is trying to get to. If the bird is coming to a specific area (only one hole) then you can try hanging something that will deter the bird from that spot: punch a hole on the rim of a tin plate and string it up so that it dangles in front of the problem spot. This will blow in the wind, reflect the sun and make some noise that will hopefully deter the woodpecker from coming back to that spot.

However, if the bird is covering an area larger than that, try tinfoil. Take as long a sheet of tinfoil as you need and cover the area the bird is visiting. It is easy to put up with pins or tacks. Both of these methods should only take a week or two to convince the woodpecker to move to a new area to feed/nest/drum.

The other, slightly more passive approach, is to find out what the bird needs. If it is looking for food (which means you probably have insects in your walls) you could put out suet feeders. If it is attempting to nest, then you should leave old and dying trees up in your yard. Give the birds what they need so they don’t have to turn to your house for those resources.

No matter how frustrating it may get, just remember your solution will probably be easier than when Israelis had to deal with Syrian Woodpeckers destroying their irrigation pipes.

- 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: