Franklin Countys First News

Western Maine Audubon presents ‘What’s Happening to Our Birds?’ with wildlife ecologist Sally Stockwell

Savannah Sparrow by Jennifer Brockway.

Sally Stockwell

FARMINGTON - Maine Audubon wildlife ecologist Sally Stockwell, will give a one-hour presentation titled, “What’s Happening to Our Birds?” on Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. The talk will examine the shocking decline in forest bird numbers both in our region and throughout North America.

Stockwell will also discuss steps we can take as individuals and as a society to help mitigate further declines. The talk—originally scheduled as an in-person event at UMF—will be broadcast instead as a live webinar due to Corona virus restrictions. The talk—sponsored by Western Maine Audubon—is free and open to the public, but registration is required and must be done from the following link. Please check our website prior to the event for any updates.

The numbers are staggering. A recent article in the journal Science documents declines among 64% of all eastern forest bird species - a loss of 167 million birds - and among 50 percent of all boreal forest species—a loss of 501 million birds— in North America alone. That means nearly one in four of all eastern forest birds and one in three of all boreal forest birds that were coloring the forest with their flashy feathers and cheerful songs in 1970 are no longer with us.

There are many reasons for these declines. Some of the more persistent are habitat loss on both breeding and wintering grounds, loss or degradation of migratory stopovers, decline or contamination of insect food from overuse of pesticides, collisions with windows and other human structures, and predation from cats. Individuals can take simple steps to steward birds and habitat, and every little bit helps. Maine can do more than a little bit; in fact, we can play an outsized role in helping to stem the decline.

Our state has the largest remaining block of forest in the eastern U.S. and these forests are vital to the breeding success of millions of forest songbirds every year. We are the “baby bird factory” for the entire Atlantic Flyway. Because of that, much of northern and western Maine has been designated as a globally significant Important Bird Area by National Audubon and BirdLife International. We have both an opportunity and a responsibility to help these declining birds.

Come learn more about how the data was gathered, who’s at risk and why, and what you can do to help stem the declines. All landowners in the region with grasslands or forestlands can help change that by creating or improving habitat for birds in Maine. Your efforts to care for your woods, fields and waters can make a big difference!

Sally Stockwell is the Director of Conservation at Maine Audubon. She is a wildlife ecologist with experience in conservation of nongame, rare, and endangered species in freshwater wetlands, coastal beaches and marshes, and northern forests. She has additional experience as an interpretive naturalist, environmental education instructor, and outdoor adventure leader. Sally holds a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology and an M.S. in wildlife management from the University of Maine and a B.S. in biology from The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington. In 2008, Sally was the recipient of the UMaine Department of Wildlife Ecology Award for Professional Excellence for long-term career service to wildlife conservation. Sally serves on numerous state committees and has been actively involved in town planning and open space planning.

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