The 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 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 share with consumers.
A pilot program began last year in Maine, and so far one producer, Dunham Farm and Velvet Hollow Sugar Works, in Greenwood, is enrolled in the program. Read more about the Dunhams and Maine Maple Sunday 2023.
Steve Hagenbuch, Senior Conservation Biologist and Forester with Audubon Vermont, and creator of the Bird-Friendly Maple program, visited Dunham Farm last summer to complete a habitat assessment, make recommendations to update their forest management plan, and enroll them in the program. As a result, the Dunhams became the first Maine maple producers to commit to managing their sugarbush with birds in mind, and to receive stickers marking their maple products as “Produced in Bird-friendly Habitats”, and rack cards and posters to display at their sugarbush.
Bird-friendly sugarbush management is designed to encourage greater diversity and structural complexity than is sometimes found in pure sugarbushes, while not restricting maple producing activities. Some of the management goals include keeping at least 25% of the forest in species other than maple, keeping at least 25% vegetation cover in the understory (0-6’) and midstory (6-30’), and retaining or recruiting at least 2 dead standing trees/acre and at least 4 down logs/acre, as increased forest diversity often leads to increased diversity and abundance of birds and other wildlife.
Maine Audubon is excited to launch this program along with the Dunhams, and looks forward to partnering with other maple producers in the future.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the program and how to enroll, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are actively looking for partners to help us expand this program during 2023.
For additional information on the original Bird-Friendly Maple program visit VT Audubon.