From the Arctic to Brazil By Way of the Coast of Maine: The Semipalmated Sandpiper’s Journey – with Shiloh Schulte – Tuesday, May 16th

Shorebirds are showing the most dramatic declines of any group of birds. Species that undertake hemispheric migrations rely on specific habitats and food sources to survive, but these resources are increasingly under threat from human disturbance, habitat loss and degradation, over-harvesting, increasing predation, and climate change.


York County Audubon has notched up its involvement with our shorebirds. We have paid for Piping Plover monitors who help educate the public at our beaches.  Some YCA members are participating in shorebird surveys. We have put on Piping Plover workshops with children in local schools and day camps, have run multiple shorebird focused field trips, and put on a shorebird workshop for birders.


Kennebunk resident Dr. Shiloh Schulte has been on the forefront of the Manomet Shorebird Recovery Program. He has worked extensively with the American Oystercatcher, a distinctive shorebird which has become the poster child for conservation success. However, the Shorebird Recovery Program is not stopping with the American Oystercatcher.

Dr. Schulte will address work with shorebirds we see more commonly on our beach walks. Semipalmated Sandpipers were once the most widespread and abundant shorebird in the Western Hemisphere. In recent decades their numbers have declined sharply, particularly in the Eastern US and Canada. Dr. Schulte will discuss recent research into why they are declining and how we can help. Can we develop better strategies to protect this declining species? Education is an important step. By attending this program you can be informed on the latest and help spread the word.

The program will be at 7 p.m. in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.  Please join us.  York County Audubon programs are free and open to all.

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Warbler Workshop with Doug Hitchcox on Saturday, May 13th

Just in time for their spring arrival, Maine Audubon’s Staff Naturalist Doug Hitchcox will hold a workshop to teach you various techniques for identifying the gems of our forest: warblers. We will look at the diversity of the family, keys for identifying each species, and even spend time learning the songs and auditory cues to take your birding tothe next level.  The workshop will be held at the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust on Saturday, May 13th.  We’ll meet at KCT at 6:30 am for an early morning bird walk, followed by the workshop itself.  A second walk will follow after lunch (please bring your lunch).

Hooded Warbler DH crop  20131012 1/X Photos of Maine Audubon staff naturalist Doug Hitchcox during the Big Sit in Falmouth, Maine on 10/12/13. FOR/DOUG

An enthusiastic birder, Doug set the Big Year record for Maine birds with 314 species in 2011. In his spare time, he also runs the Maine-birds listserv, serves on the Maine Bird Records Committee and is one of Maine’s eBird reviewers.   (Photo of Doug by M. Kathleen Kelly)

Advance registration (via this website) is required.  Please click on the link under “What’s Coming Up” on the right side of this page, then scroll down to find the registration form.  Fee of $10 is payable by cash or check at the workshop.

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A New Website for the Maine Young Birders Club

MYBC crop

The newly formed Maine Young Birders Club will be having its second field trip this Saturday at Scarborough Marsh.

For more information about this outing and the MYBC, please visit their new website:

You can also contact Lena Moser or Nathan Hall at

Posted in Uncategorized

Using Birds to Predict the Future of Tidal Marshes – with Brian Olsen – Tuesday, April 18th

At the University of Maine, Dr. Olsen’s research program explores how animals, particularly birds, respond to environmental change.

Tidal marshes blur the transition between land and ocean across great swaths of the Atlantic seaboard of North America.  These estuarine systems act as the nurseries for our fisheries and provide protection from storm surges for our towns and cities.  As an ecosystem with a mix of terrestrial and aquatic characteristics, however, they are also inhabited by species with unique adaptations for survival.

Sea-level rise is already challenging these adaptations, and the outcome for these species, the ecosystem as a whole, and the services they supply our society remains unclear.  This presentation discusses the state of tidal marsh bird populations in the Northeast US, with an eye toward what that can tell us about how our marshes are weathering the rising waters.

The program will be at 7 p.m. in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.  Please join us.  York County Audubon programs are free and open to all.


Brian Olsen 1 Brian Olsen 2

Posted in Uncategorized

Saving the Purple Martin – with Dennis Skillman – Tuesday, March 21st

Purple Martins are beloved birds.   They’re known as harbingers of spring, arriving in Maine in mid-April as a most welcome sign of the changing seasons.  They are aerial acrobats known for their great speed and agility in flight, and when approaching their housing, they will dive from the sky at great speeds with their wings tucked.   But their numbers have been dramatically reduced as European Starlings and House Sparrows have successfully competed with them for nesting cavities.  Throughout the Eastern United States, many people have been working to support and strengthen their nesting colonies.

In 2013, Purple Martins were discovered nesting in a small birdhouse in a Hampton, New Hampshire marsh. The following year, a group of Audubon volunteers placed a gourd rack on town land nearby.  Since then, that Martin colony has grown and now serves as a model for York County Audubon to emulate.  Dennis Skillman is a member of Seacoast/New Hampshire Audubon, and has been at the center of their work to expand the colony there. On Tuesday, March 21st, York County Audubon will be delighted to host his program on the success they’ve had, which has yielded a colony filled to capacity with over 40 young fledged. The program will be at 7 p.m. in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.  Please join us.  York County Audubon programs are free and open to all.

Purple Martins only nest in colonies, and are notoriously finicky about their choice of sites.  A colony on private property in Kennebunk is the only one in Southern Maine.  It’s extremely difficult to establish a new colony, but with the right steps, it has been possible to enrich existing ones.  York County Audubon has been working with the Kennebunk Land Trust and the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge to identify potential local enrichment sites, and with New Hampshire Audubon and the Purple Martin Conservation Association to confirm best practices.

purple-martin-gourd-houses purple-martin-small-house

Posted in Events

The Harlequin – Winter 2017

Please click on the link below to view the Winter 2017 issue of our Harlequin newsletter (with photos in full color!)

Piping Plover - MA 3    Wood Duck CBC SS crop


Harlequin Winter 2017


Posted in Harlequin newsletter

Calling young birders for the Maine Young Birders Club!

Do you know of young birders or naturalists (ages 11-18) who live in southern Maine? If so, we want to hear from them! York County Audubon is helping to launch the Maine Young Birders Club (MYBC)–the first of its kind in the state. MYBC will organize bird walks, field trips, presentations, and other fun events and activities for young nature-enthusiasts. We are looking for new members! The first Club meeting will take place on Saturday, March 25, with a bird walk followed by a pizza lunch. If you know of a young birder who wants to get involved, please contact Lena Moser or Nathan Hall at or for more information, visit their website:


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YCAS announces the June Ficker Hog Island Scholarship for 2017

Hog lsland chickadee - Christine Caprio    A view of Hog Island

Hog Island on midcoast Maine

YCAS will again be awarding a scholarship for the Educator’s Week program, July 16-21, 2017 on famed Hog Island. Check the Scholarship Programs link under the Community Involvement pull down heading above for more information.  The application deadline is March 15th.

Posted in Uncategorized

Gull ID Workshop with Derek Lovitch – Jan 28-29


This two-part workshop, on Saturday afternoon, Jan 28th and Sunday morning, Jan 29th, will get you started on unraveling the mysteries of gull identification. Actually, most gulls are not very difficult to tell apart, though adult and juveniles of most species look very different. We’re going to give ourselves confidence with identifying the easier plumage’s of our common species, and then tackle the more challenging intermediate plumage’s and the less-common species.  (Please note that this workshop was originally planned for Jan 21st-22nd, but has been changed to the 28th/29th.)

Gull in flight. © Marie Jordan
Ring-billed Gull in flight. Photo by Marie Jordan

Part I of the Workshop on Saturday January 28th will be indoors at the Mather Auditorium of the Wells Reserve at 342 Laudholm Farm Road in Wells will be divided into two sections (you need not be present for both):

1:00 pm-2:30 pm – Beginning Gull Identification. Using Powerpoint and book resources, we’ll start with the basics of gull identification, such as feather topography and aging. We’ll then focus on our most common species: Ring-billed, Herring, Great Black-backed, Laughing, and Bonaparte’s Gulls.

3:00 pm-4:30 pm – Advanced Gull Identification. Now comfortable with the basics, we’ll move on to the uncommon species: Lesser Black-backed, Iceland, Glaucous, and Black-legged Kittiwake. Next up will be the rarities: Little, Black-headed, and yes, even Thayer’s. We’ll touch upon “Megas” such as Mew, Slaty-backed, and Sabine’s, and we’ll discuss hybrids. Finally, we’ll apply what we have learned to tackle and understand some identification quandaries, such as the famous “Westbrook Gull” before we finish up with some photo quizzes to test our new-found knowledge.

Part II: Sunday, January 29th (8:00am – 12:00pm):

We’ll meet in Portland (Back Cove parking lot on Preble Street Ext, opposite the Hannaford’s) to carpool around the area to apply what we have learned. We’ll spend some time with our most common species: Herring, Ring-billed, and Great Black-backed, and then seek out Iceland and Glaucous, and perhaps we’ll find something even better!

We hope that you will join Derek for this workshop to foster appreciation for this fascinating group of birds. Derek (with his wife Jeannette) owns and operates Wild Bird Supply in Freeport. He’s the author of “How to Be a Better Birder” and is well respected as one of the premiere birders in Maine and beyond.

York County Audubon is sponsoring this Workshop. We are asking for a $10.00 fee to participate, payable by cash or check at the Saturday session. Space is limited. Please register by signing up on this website by clicking on the event link in the Calendar column to the right, and then scrolling down to the fields for making a reservation.  Weather dates or Workshop updates will be posted on the York County Audubon website and Derek’s Web Page (

Posted in Workshop

Video of Lake Baikal program now available

lena-from-wildside-nature-tours Bluethroat-1

For anyone who missed Lena Moser’s wonderful YCA October presentation on her trip to Lake Baikal, it’s now available for your viewing! Special thanks to Saco River Community Television for recording it and making it available in such high quality. And special thanks to Lena for such an exceptional presentation. Just click this link:

Posted in Events, video