Shorebird Workshop with Louis Bevier, Monday, August 28th

York County Audubon continues our Workshop series by offering a Shorebird Identification Workshop presented by noted Maine Birder, Louis Bevier. Shorebirds herald the changing seasons by staging and feeding in mixed flocks on our beaches and resting on historical roosting area.  Fortunes Rock Beach and Hills Beach are two of these noted areas. Louis will discuss the beautiful plumage variation of these long-distance migrant flocks.  We will begin to identify specific species within the flocks by size, shape and feeding strategy. Louis will also identify species migratory travel dates from ebird data. Sounds of individual species will also be discussed and listened for on our beach walks.

This workshop will be led by well known Maine birder Louis Bevier.  Since the 1960’s, birds have drawn him to explore most of North and South America, leading to months at sea off Alaska and California, backcountry surveys in the high Sierra, plant and bird expeditions to several countries, and many other adventures.  He has worked as a tour guide for Field Guides, as an editor for The Birds of North America series, as Associate Editor for the journal North American Birds, and serves on the Maine Bird Records Committee.

The presentation part of the workshop will be held at the Biddeford Pool Fire Station located at the corner of Rt 208 and Stone Cliff Rd in Biddeford Pool on August 28, 2017. Two beach walks are planned, one at Hills Beach and the second at Fortunes Rocks. We will meet at Buffleheads Restaurant on Hills Beach at 7:45 a.m. Plan on walking to the Basket Island Sandbar and birding until 9:30. Bring your scope along if you have one. We will then drive to the Biddeford Fire Station for Louis’ presentation and lunch (please bring your lunch). We will conclude the day with a beach walk at South Beach at Fortunes Rocks so that you can check your skill in Shorebird identification. Water shoes are appropriate although we should not get wet as High Tide is not till 4:54 p.m.

Space is limited, and 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.

oystercatcher KJ   Common Tern with fish

American Oystercatcher – photo by Ken Janes. Common Tern with fish – photo by Marie Jordan.

Posted in Workshop

Lost Among the Birds, the Story of a Record-Breaking Big Year – with Neil Hayward – Tuesday, June 20th (Preceded by a brief Annual Meeting)

Boston birder Neil Hayward was having a mid-life crisis. So what did he do? He went birding. This temporary insanity resulted in almost 250,000 miles of travel, taking him to the remote corners of North America. Over the course of one year he got so into birding that he ended up setting what birders refer to as the Big Year record. He spotted and identified an extraordinary 749 species of birds in one year.

neil hayward

Neil wrote his first book, Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year, chronicling his journey from heartbreak to triumph after he entered the 2013 Big Year birding competition – a race to find the most birds in one year. When Sandy Komito (the cheery guy played by Owen Wilson in the movie The Big Year) saw 748 species in 1998, many thought his North American birding record would last forever. In the end, Neil shocked the birding world by breaking the Big Year record previously held by Sandy Komito. Along the way, Neil surprised even himself, finding a renewed sense of confidence and hope about the world and his role in it.

With just days left in 2013, he was tied with the longstanding record of 748 sightings. And then as the deadline approached it happened! Ornithologists and informed birders will be astounded by this amateur birdwatcher’s achievements, but everyone will connect with Neil’s journey—the desire to find oneself and one’s place in the world.  Join us for this outstanding program. This event is free and open to the public. Come early for refreshments and social time.

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Annual Election of Officers and Directors

The Nominating Committee has presented a slate of Officers and Directors to the YCA Board, and that slate has been approved by the Directors.  At the Annual Meeting on June 20th, the following slate of Officers shall be voted upon by the Membership:  Bill Grabin, President, Joyce Toth, Vice President, Kathy Donahue, Treasurer, and Monica Grabin, Secretary, as well as the following slate of Directors: Mary Bateman, David Doubleday, Doug Hitchcox, Ken Janes, Lena Moser, Pat Moynahan, Seth Davis, Eileen Willard, Marian Zimmerman

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Learning Bird Language – a Workshop with Dan Gardoqui – Sunday, June 25th

Slow down and listen to the birds…and they will tell you nature’s secrets.  Birding can be whole lot more than feeding, watching, photographing, keeping life lists, or chasing rarities.  It can also involve knowing what birds are saying. Deep Bird Language requires slowing down and truly listening to the birds.  Dan says “It’s more about quality than quantity.” For the vast majority of human existence, this was a skill we could not afford to ignore.  Once critical to our survival it is now, nearly gone.  Local tracker, naturalist, and birder Dan Gardoqui will give us a peek into the world of Deep Bird Language including tips on how to “re-awaken” this hardwired skill set of awareness.

This workshop will run from 7 am till noon on Sunday, June 25th  and will be held at the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust on Gravelly Brook Rd in Kennebunkport.  It will blend field observation and interpretation with some indoor lectures & lessons about the fundamentals and nuances of learning bird language. Participants should dress to be outdoors for a few hours at a time (be prepared for biting insects); bring something to sit on (if you don’t want to sit on the ground); and bring a field notebook, pencil, and binoculars.

Dan is co-founder and Executive Director of White Pine Programs.  He lives in the Agamenticus region, and has been studying naturalist skills, wildlife tracking, bird language & mentoring since 1990. Dan has a M.S. in Natural Resources, is a Certified Wilderness First Responder, Certified Wildlife Tracker, Registered Maine Guide, & served as Science Faculty at Granite State College for over a decade. Through wildlife tracking, Dan has contributed to wildlife studies and served as science editor for the bird language book “What the Robin Knows”   FMI:

Space is limited, and 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.

Dan-Gardoqui What the Robin Knows

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The Harlequin – Spring 2017

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

Piping Plover RestrictedArea-PIPL   PipingPlover_Chick_3 Amanda Reed

 Harlequin Spring 2017

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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

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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

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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

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