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Forestry for Maine Birds


Forestry for Maine Birds works to create more and better bird habitat through forest management that will benefit not only the songbirds of conservation concern, but many other wildlife species that use these habitats as well.

BLBWDougHThe program targets three key audiences who together have a huge impact on our forest birds. Landowners have the potential to create high-quality bird habitat on their woodlots by managing “with birds in mind”. Foresters have the expertise to create management plans that over the long-term consider what habitat birds need and how to create it. Loggers implement forest management plans and can improve habitat for birds in how they operate equipment and manage the site.

 

Activities and Accomplishments

Workshops:
During the past year and a half, Maine Audubon, The Forest Guild, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Maine Forest Service have been working together to host forester, landowner and logger workshops. These workshops bring the foundation of Forestry for Maine Birds into the field, with background on bird identification, a primer on bird habitat, and an assessment tool for helping evaluate bird habitat.Guidebook:
We have also been working on a Forestry for Maine Birds Guidebook for foresters that will provide them with background about the program, details on specific species we are targeting for conservation, desired habitat conditions, and silvicultural recommendations to achieve those habitat conditions.

Background

Maine’s forests provide the most extensive breeding habitat for neotropical migratory songbirds of any state in the eastern U.S. These songbirds depend on different habitat structures within the forest, with each species nesting and feeding in a different part of the forest, from the ground to the treetops, and from tree trunks to the outermost branches. The structural diversity within Maine forests, combined with abundant insects and long hours of daylight, have historically made it possible for an incredible number of species and individuals to raise at least one successful brood of chicks yearly, in spite of our relatively short breeding season. Many of these species are “stewardship species” for the northeast, because such a large percentage of their populations breed here and are dependent on the unique characteristics of this habitat for their continued survival.

Why Maine?

Maine’s forests provide the most extensive breeding habitat for neotropical migratory songbirds of any state in the eastern U.S. These songbirds depend on different habitat structures within the forest, with each species nesting and feeding in a different part of the forest, from the ground to the treetops, and from tree trunks to the outermost branches. The structural diversity within Maine forests, combined with abundant insects and long hours of daylight, have historically made it possible for an incredible number of species and individuals to raise at least one successful brood of chicks yearly, in spite of our relatively short breeding season. Many of these species are “stewardship species” for the northeast, because such a large percentage of their populations breed here and are dependent on the unique characteristics of this habitat for their continued survival.

What’s the problem?

Maine’s forests provide the most extensive breeding habitat for neotropical migratory songbirds of any state in the eastern U.S. These songbirds depend on different habitat structures within the forest, with each species nesting and feeding in a different part of the forest, from the ground to the treetops, and from tree trunks to the outermost branches. The structural diversity within Maine forests, combined with abundant insects and long hours of daylight, have historically made it possible for an incredible number of species and individuals to raise at least one successful brood of chicks yearly, in spite of our relatively short breeding season. Many of these species are “stewardship species” for the northeast, because such a large percentage of their populations breed here and are dependent on the unique characteristics of this habitat for their continued survival.

Why Forestry for Maine Birds?

Forestry for Maine Birds works to create more and better bird habitat through forest management that will benefit not only the songbirds of conservation concern, but many other wildlife species that use these habitats as well. The character of Maine’s forests, especially in the northern half of the state, has changed markedly in the last several decades with new ownerships, new landowner goals, and changing international market forces. At the same time, population declines have been documented in many forest songbirds. To stall further population declines it is imperative that we act now to maintain and/or enhance high quality breeding habitat for forest birds in Maine. Part of that effort will require increasing the structural complexity of our forests since each species uses different features in the forest for nesting, feeding, and resting. The best way to do this is to work directly with the landowners and professionals – both foresters and loggers – responsible for managing those forestlands.

What Kind of Forest is Good For Birds?

No one type of forest is good for every species of bird. A diverse mix of forest types across the landscape is critical for supporting a diverse mix of birds and other wildlife, and forest diversity has been declining in recent decades. In southern Maine, forests are aging and the amount of young forest has declined on the landscape. “Middle-age” forest dominates much of the southern Maine landscape. In contrast, in northern Maine, young forest is much more abundant on the landscape. Market forces have driven some larger industrial forest landowners to reduce the rotation age of timberland, cutting trees at much younger ages than in the past. Mature forest has been reduced in this part of the state. Because mature forest provides abundant and diverse structure, including lots of dead wood and gaps in the canopy where older trees have fallen over and young trees sprout, it is a forest type that supports 71% of our forest vertebrates. Woodland owners who manage their forests for a diverse mix of forest types that includes a high proportion of mature forest structure will provide high quality habitat not only for declining migratory songbirds but many other vertebrates as well.

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Contact Us

If you’d like more information about Forestry for Maine Birds, or to host or attend an Forestry for Maine Birds workshop, please contact:

Susan Gallo
Maine Audubon
20 Gilsland Farm Road
Falmouth, ME 04105
(207) 781-2330 ext. 216