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Forestry for Maine Birds

WHAT IS Forestry for Maine Birds?

Forestry for Maine Birds (FFMB) integrates bird conservation with forest management and planning by:

  • Improving habitat for priority forest birds and a variety of other wildlife species,
  • Engaging woodland owners in forest stewardship,
  • Working alongside other forest management goals, and
  • Enhancing the value and enjoyment of Maine woodlands for many generations to come.

FFMB works with three key audiences:

Landowners, who have the potential to create high-quality bird habitat on their woodlands by managing “with birds in mind.”
Foresters, who have the expertise to create management plans that consider what habitat birds need and how to create it over the long-term.
Loggers, who implement forest management plans and can improve habitat for birds in how they operate equipment and manage work sites.

With careful planning, you can have productive working woodlands that provide habitat for many of the bird and wildlife species that call Maine home. The “handy” habitat assessment below will help you recognize which habitat features you might already have in your woodlands and which ones are missing that you might want to enhance or try to create over time.
Every spring, the Maine woods come alive with color and song. Bright warblers return from points far south to sparkle like jewels in the trees. Sturdy woodpeckers and hardy chickadees that stay in Maine all winter look for nesting cavities in dead or rotting trees. Stealthy thrushes hide in dense vegetation, though their resounding flute-like songs give their location away. The Maine woods fill with more than 90 different species of birds, many here for just three short months, to do one thing: make baby birds. Lots and lots of baby birds. Maine forests are baby bird factories. They provide a variety of habitats – places where animals find what they need to survive, including food, water, cover from predators, and a place to raise young. For birds, long days, abundant food, and excellent habitat makes the Maine woods an ideal place to raise baby birds.  In fact, the Maine woods are SO important for our breeding forest birds that much of northern and western Maine has been designated a globally significant Important Bird Area by National Audubon and BirdLife International.
Populations of many forest birds have been steadily declining in recent decades, as threats continue to grow. Read about how bird populations have declined by 30% since 1970 both in a recent Portland Press Herald op-ed and on You can also watch a webinar titled “What is Happening to Our Birds?” that Sally Stockwell presented to the Western Maine Audubon chapter in September of 2020. These threats include habitat fragmentation, development, chemical contamination, and air pollution, coupled with habitat loss at migratory stopovers, on wintering grounds, and on summer breeding grounds. Climate change adds an element of uncertainty to the future as plant and animal species shift and move, ecological communities change, and more intense storms change forest dynamics. Yet no matter what other threats these forest birds face, if they don’t have good habitat for raising their young, their populations will continue to plummet. You can read (and listen to) more about the connection between FFMB and combating climate change in a Maine Public piece titled “To Aid Conservation, Loggers, Landowners Asked to ‘Think Like a Bird‘” by Susan Sharon.
With 96% of Maine’s land privately owned, landowners can play a critical role in helping birds and other wildlife face these challenges. By enhancing habitat features on your woodland, you can help conserve Maine’s “baby bird factory,” and increase the likelihood of population recovery. That is where Forestry for Maine Birds (FFMB) comes in. FFMB promotes healthy forests with strong structural and age-class diversity across the landscape. FFMB does this by encouraging foresters, loggers, landowners, and land managers to consider the needs of forest birds when managing forests. FFMB provides tools to assess existing habitat and to plan activities that will enhance habitat features birds and other wildlife need, including structural complexity from the ground up and across the landscape. You can play an active role by beginning to maintain your woodland with birds in mind.

FFMB is a cooperative effort led by Maine Audubon in partnership with the Maine Forest Service, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Forest Stewards Guild. The program was adapted from initial work done in Vermont by Vermont Audubon and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. Rather than focusing just on Northern Hardwood forests as did Vermont, the Maine team adapted and expanded the Vermont program to address bird habitat needs in four different forest types – Oak/Pine, Northern Hardwood, Northern Mixedwood, and Northern Softwood.

Forestry for Maine Birds poster