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Maine farms join Bird-Friendly Maple program

For many people in Maine, March means one thing: maple syrup. Throughout the state, sugarmakers are now busy boiling maple sap into syrup. You might not see the connection to wildlife, but those very same forests that make Maine one of the top three maple producing states also support some of the highest diversity of nesting birds in the country.

In an effort to bring together Maine’s maple industry with bird conservation, Maine Audubon has partnered with Audubon Vermont, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and the Maine Maple Producers Association to bring the Bird-Friendly Maple program to the Pine Tree State. Developed in 2014 by Audubon Vermont, in partnership with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation and the Vermont Maple Sugar Maker’s Association, Bird-Friendly Maple promotes forest management that includes consideration of bird habitat needs for species such as Scarlet Tanager, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Wood Thrush.

In recognition of these intentional efforts, participating maple producers are provided with unique product labeling, signage, and other materials to educate consumers. Maine now has two maple producers officially taking part in the program, with two more poised to come on board.

Suzanne and Brian Dunham of Dunham Farm and Velvet Hollow Sugar Works, in Greenwood, were the first Maine maple producers formally recognized as managing their sugarbush with birds in mind through the program.

Jereme and Donna Frigon, owners of Gray Jay Mapleworks, in Moose River, outside of Jackman, have also completed the assessment and are signed up as official participants. The Frigon’s focus is on creating delicious organic pure maple products while protecting the sustainability of the maple stand.

John Lee at Black Owl Maple at 21 Woodchuck Way, Jefferson and Bruce Pierce at A&B Maple Syrup, 1014 Sunday River Road, Newry, have also had bird habitat assessments completed and plan to take part in the program. Dunham Farm, Black Owl Maple Products, and A&B Maple Syrup will all be open for Maine Maple Sunday Weekend, March 23 and 24.

Steve Hagenbuch, Senior Conservation Biologist and Forester with Audubon Vermont and creator of the Bird-Friendly Maple program, and Consulting Forester Maren Granstrum visited Gray Jay Mapleworks and A&B Maple Syrup last fall to review the program and initiate a bird habitat assessment on their sugarbushes.

Bird Friendly MapleSally Stockwell, Director of Conservation at Maine Audubon, says “We are excited to see the Bird-Friendly Maple program expanding in Maine. Bird-Friendly Maple aims to help both maple producers and birds that depend on sugarbushes for their livelihood. Maine forests are the ‘baby bird factory’ for over 90 species of birds, but they need high quality breeding habitat to successfully nest and raise their young. This program will help enhance breeding habitat for many bird species that are currently struggling and showing dramatic population declines across their ranges.”

Maine Audubon looks forward to partnering with other maple producers in the future. With the help of funding from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Maine Audubon hopes to enroll another 15 to 20 producers in the program over the next two years. Jason Lilley, UMaine Cooperative Extension’s Sustainable Agriculture and Maple Industry Educator, says “This is a terrific opportunity for maple producers to appeal to the public’s taste buds and concern for wildlife at the same time.”

Maple syrup lovers, look for the Produced in Bird-Friendly Habitat sticker when purchasing your syrup to help both producers and birds!

For general information on Bird-Friendly Maple visit For questions on Bird-Friendly Maple in Maine contact