The Christmas Bird Counts Are Coming

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Beginning on Christmas Day in 1900, the   Audubon Society has been sponsoring Christmas Bird Counts (CBC’s) to help monitor the health and status of bird populations throughout North America.  In that first year, there were 25 count circles with a total of 27 birders.  Now, there are over 2300 count circles each year with over 70,000 birders participating, with the locations stretching from Alaska to South America.

Each year, York County Audubon sponsors two counts.  The Southern York County circle extends from Kittery to Ogunquit, while the Biddeford/Kennebunkport count circle reaches from Kennebunk to Saco.  Each count territory is a geographic circle, carved out into six or more territories.  Each territory has a team that scours it during “count day” looking for all bird species, and recording the numbers seen of each.  It can, at times, be a bit more art than science, as we attempt to count – but not double count – the birds we find. We also have supporters who monitor their home feeders during the day and contribute their totals.  To avoid double counting, we ask them only to report the greatest number of each species that they see at any one time during the day.

At the end of the day (at 5 p.m.), we meet to compile the counts and share highlights.  Once compiled, the counts are forwarded to National Audubon for their master compilation.  Both locally and nationally, the totals are reviewed to assess trends in the populations of all species.  While the totals can vary fairly dramatically year to year due to the weather that happens to grace us on count day, the bigger picture over time can be very informative.

This year, the Southern York County CBC will be held on Monday, December 17th, while the Biddeford/Kennebunkport CBC will be on Saturday, December 29th.   The Southern YC compilation will be held in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve, while the Bidd/Kport compilation will held at the Church on the Cape in Cape Porpoise.  If you might like to find out about participating in one or both, please contact Monica Grabin at 207-985-3342 or for the Southern York County CBC, or Kathy Donahue at 207-967-4102 or for the Biddeford/Kennebunkport CBC.

Posted in Events

The Outlook in Augusta: a Legislative Update with Eliza Donoghue on Tuesday, November 13th

What will be happening in the Maine Legislature after the November election?  How will environmental concerns fare in Augusta next year with a new governor and new legislature?  What’s the outlook for advancing solar and other alternative energy sources in Maine, and for protecting Maine’s forests, waterways and wildlife?

Eliza Donoghue is Maine Audubon’s Senior Policy and Advocacy Specialist, and spends much of her time advocating for these concerns in Augusta.  She joined Maine Audubon in July, 2017, bringing with her extensive experience and familiarity with the Maine State House, the Land Use Planning Commission, the Land for Maine’s Future program, and the extended network of legislators and stakeholders involved with environmental policy in Maine.

A graduate of Vermont Law School, Eliza has also worked with the Conservation Law Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Office of the Maine Attorney General. She is a native Mainer and lives in Brunswick with her family.

The program will be at 7 p.m. in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.  Free and open to the public.  Come early for social time and refreshments.


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Diving and Birding in the Heart of the Coral Triangle with Monica and Bill Grabin on Tuesday, October 16th

There is an area in the southwest Pacific known as the Coral Triangle.  It encompasses parts of six different island nations, and it has the greatest marine biodiversity of any area on earth.  And at the heart of the Coral Triangle, on the eastern edge of Indonesia, lies an area of West Papua known as Raja Ampat, meaning Four Kings.  Over 1,300 species of fish and 500 species of coral have been documented in this one area, and in 2017, Monica and Bill Grabin had the good fortune to explore it for themselves.

On their fifth trip to Indonesia for scuba diving, they delighted not only in the amazing diversity of fish, molluscs, shellfish, and corals, but also the fantastic birds of the area, including the incomparable Wilson’s Bird of Paradise.  On Tuesday, October 16th, York County Audubon is pleased to have Monica and Bill present a program on some of the wonders they’ve encountered.  Join us for an evening of amazing creatures and experiences, as well as a little background on the sport of SCUBA.

The program will be at 7 p.m. in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.  Free and open to the public.  Come early for social time and refreshments.

Posted in Program

Our 20th Annual Bird Seed Sale is coming!

Keep your feathered friends happy this winter by treating them to tasty and fresh, premium quality bird food and help support two of your favorite environmental organizations at the same time.  Profits from our annual sale support the educational programs of both York County Audubon and the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve.  A wide variety of types of seed and suet is available, with great pricing, especially if you order early.

Early bird pricing is available if you place your order by 4 p.m. on Friday, October 26th

Order pick up will be at the Wells Reserve November 8th and 9th from 2 – 4 p.m., and Nov 10th from 10 a.m. to noon, with easy access and volunteers on hand to help load your car. 

For more information, please access the order form via this link:



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The Harlequin – Autumn 2018

Please click on the link below to view the Autumn 2018 issue of our Harlequin newsletter (with photos in full color!)

Harlequin Autumn 2018


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Following Darwin’s Footsteps: Wildlife Watching and Birding the Galapagos – with Sue Keefer and Steve Norris – Tuesday, Sept 18th

After a career running children’s summer camps, then living aboard a sailboat, and working for Vermont State Parks, Sue Keefer and Steve Norris have spent seven summers helping out at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge where you may have encountered them trying to keep invasive plants at bay, mowing, painting, or leading bird, butterfly, tide-pool, history, and photography programs. In the winter of 2017-18, Sue and Steve acted on a long-standing bucket list item. Their love of Ecuador compelled them to visit to the Galapagos Islands – the “Showcase of Evolution”.

Their original plan for a “non-bird-centric” trip soon fell apart as they realized that, although the Galapagos have “only” 178 species of birds, the 29 resident and 22 endemic species are a fascinating study. From the breathtaking nesting colony of Waved Albatross to the inquisitive endemic Mockingbirds, bird life in the Galapagos is quite a treat. Close-up observation and study of Darwin Finches is a real-life exercise in the what’s, why’s, and how’s of evolution! The non-flying fauna is equally interesting with large colonies of sea lions, marine and land iguanas and, of course, giant tortoises. It became readily apparent why the Galapagos are a unique and invaluable natural resource worthy of intense protection.

Darwin’s two month stay in the Galapagos in 1835 led to a new biology based on a unifying theory of evolution.  Sue and Steve’s say their stay on the islands left them feeling rather inadequate in their own “naturalist” skills! Darwin, like most early naturalists, left the island with many sketches and specimens to study; Sue & Steve brought away many photographs and memories of unique living things they observed. We know you will get caught up in the fun and entertaining style of these enthusiastic laid-back educators as they share their observations of the animals, plants, and environment that make the Galapagos special. The program will be at 7 p.m. in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.  Free and open to the public.  Come early for social time and refreshments.

Posted in Program

Land of the Prikichi: Birds of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao by Dr. Jeffrey Wells – Tuesday, June 26th

**** PLEASE NOTE: The date for this program has been changed from June 19th to June 26th ****

The sunny islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao lie just off the coast of Venezuela with a rich history steeped in both Caribbean and Dutch culture. They are well known as popular winter getaways for scuba divers and beach-loving families from the U.S., yet fewer people know of the fascinating mix of birds that can be enjoyed here at any time of year. North American birders will be intrigued by South American tropical landbirds like the vibrant green Prikichi (Brown-throated Parakeet), the bright orange “oriole on steroids” Troupial, or the shimmering jewel-like Ruby-topaz Hummingbird (photo by Michiel Oversteegen). Honking flocks of pink American Flamingos on vast salt flats are a memory not forgotten.

In migration and winter, the islands are populated with North American waterfowl, shorebirds, swallows, warblers, and other familiar birds.  Therein is a connection.  “Our birds” spend part of their life in faraway places like the Caribbean.  What happens there has equal importance to what happens here.

Jeff Wells is an author of several bird books and he is also the Senior Scientist for the Boreal Songbird Initiative and International Boreal Conservation Campaign which are non-profit organizations working internationally for the conservation of North America’s Boreal forest.

Come hear about the wonderful birding and eclectic ecology of the ABC islands and why they make an ideal, easy-to-get-to location to combine birding with other family vacation pursuits.  The program will be at 7 p.m. in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.  Come early for refreshments and social time. This program is free and open to the public.


Posted in Program

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 26th, 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, Marion Sprague, Seth Davis, Eileen Willard, Marian Zimmerman

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Learning Bird Language – a Workshop with Dan Gardoqui on Saturday, June 23rd

Slow down and listen to the birds…and they will tell you nature’s secrets. Local tracker, naturalist, and birder Dan Gardoqui of White Pine Programs 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 program 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. For adults & interested teens.

York County Audubon hosted Dan’s wonderful Learning Bird Language workshop last summer.  This one is being hosted by the Wells Reserve.  For more information, go to and search for Dan Gardoqui, or find it on their calendar.

Dan Gardoqui

Dan Gardoqui is a co-founder and Executive Director of White Pine Programs – a nature connection nonprofit based in York, Maine. He has been studying naturalist skills, wildlife tracking, bird language & mentoring for over 25 years. Dan has a M.S. in Natural Resources, is a 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.” While not navigating the landscape of nonprofit leadership & management, Dan loves spending time trail running, hunting, playing music & being a dad to his boys.

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Video of Dr Kurk Dorsey on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

A video of our great March program entitled Of Mallards and Men: The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, presented by UNH’s Dr Kurt Dorsey, is now available and can be watched by clicking on the link below.

Our special thanks to the Wells Reserve for recording and editing the program, and making this video available (and for everything else they do!).

Posted in Program, video