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 Events, Program

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, Program

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:


Posted in Chapter News

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 Chapter News

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 Events, 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, Program, video

Video of Doug Tallamy program

Tallamy - Chickadee Tallamy

For anyone who missed Doug Tallamy’s great program “Bringing Nature Home” at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Juen, a video of it can be viewed here:

Special thanks to Saco River Community Television for recording it and making it available in such high quality.

Posted in Events, Program, video

The Outlook in Augusta: a Legislative Update with Jennifer Burns Gray – Tuesday, November 15th

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

Jennifer Burns Gray has been Maine Audubon’s staff attorney and advocate since 1997 where she has served on an assortment of commissions and committees.  She has been extensively involved in the legislative process.  She will talk about the upcoming 128th Maine Legislative session and what’s likely to be high on Maine Audubon’s priority list of issues.

Jenn holds a B.A. from Trinity College in CT, where she majored in Political Science with a concentration in American Government. She received her J.D. from the University of Maine School of Law in 1996.

York County Audubon programs are held at 7 p.m. in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells Reserve.  There’s no charge and all are welcome!  No reservations required.

JGray headshot

Posted in Events, Program

Our 18th Annual Bird Seed Sale is coming! Early Bird Pricing through 10/28

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 October 28th.  Order pick up will be at the Wells Reserve November 10th – 12th, with easy access and volunteers on hand to help load your car.

Access the order form for more information:  seedsale2016

Photograph By Jeffrey Stevensen

Posted in Chapter News