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Being Bird Friendly and Bird Safe

February 1, 2023

Coffee & Climate: Being Bird Friendly and Bird Safe

Join us Friday, February 10th from 9am - 10am for this month’s Coffee & Climate: Being Bird Friendly and Bird Safe! Nick Lund of Maine Audubon and Addy Smith-Reiman of the Portland Society for Architecture will be joining us to discuss wildlife conservation and the importance of bird safe architecture here in Maine and why we should be considering the same in our homes.

Grab a cup of coffee and join us online for this event!

Sign up for this Zoom get-together through this Zoom registration link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Birds in Maine

Birds are a treasure to Maine’s landscape: they are the soundtrack to our coastal spaces and provide opportunities to connect to nature through recreational bird watching. Beyond that, they are extremely ecologically significant. They aid in pollination and pest control and their presence alone acts as an indicator of environmental health in a given ecosystem. Economically, billions of dollars are made annually from birding and bird related activities nationwide. 

There are over 450 species of birds that call Maine home, and the southwest coast of Maine, specifically, is an important breeding habitat for many species. In salt marshes you can spot Glossy Ibis, Snowy Egret, Little Blue, Great Blue, Tri-colored, Green, and Black-crowned Night Herons, Blue-winged Teal, Mallard ducks and more. Critically endangered Least Terns and Piping Plovers spend their time nesting on our beaches. During migration seasons, large flocks of birds follow our coastline, stopping on bluffs and beaches to rest and feed. 

Though Maine is a haven for many species of birds, some of our practices and infrastructure put birds' lives at risk. Up to 1 billion birds are killed every year in the U.S. alone due to window collisions.  As buildings modernize and increasingly incorporate large expanses of highly-glazed or ultra-clear glass in their designs, birds are at greater risk. The glazed surface of glass panes may reflect scenes of the surrounding habitats or the open sky, deluding birds. Additionally, lights in our Cities can distract and disrupt migratory birds. However, there are ways to reduce these risks and protect birds at both a City- and individual homeowner-level. Keep reading to learn more about how to make your home and City bird safe and bird friendly. 

Interested in learning more about birds in Maine? Visit Maine eBird to view and contribute to bird data across Maine and track birds and hotspots near you! Here are some bird glamor shots we found on Maine eBird’s “explore” page:

Where to Bird in Portland and South Portland

 

Part of understanding the significance of bird friendly and bird safe Cities is to experience their recreational benefits first hand! Winter offers some of the best birding in southern Maine. Visit these locations for birding in and near Portland and South Portland:

  • Scarborough Marsh, Scarborough; estuary, barrier beach, salt marsh, freshwater marsh; wading birds, waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors.

  • Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth; headland, ocean; seabirds, wintering waterfowl, including Barrow’s Goldeneye.

  • Evergreen Cemetery, Stevens Avenue, Portland; urban “oasis”; spring migrants (especially warblers).

  • Portland Waterfront and Back Cove, Portland; tidal flat, harbor; gulls (including Black-headed, Iceland, Glaucous), shorebirds, waterfowl.

Via Maine Audubon

 

BirdSafe Maine

 

BirdSafe Maine is a conservation project to address the problem of millions of bird window collisions in Maine. The Maine Audubon, the Portland Society for Architecture, and the University of Southern Maine are working to educate architects, home-builders, homeowners, state and local officials, and other concerned citizens about this bird strike issue. BirdSafe Maine works to survey migration routes for birds in Portland and actively monitor the city streets, new construction locations, and problematic buildings to identify where the most bird strikes are happening in Portland. The group also engages with Portland’s architectural community to advise new projects and works with building-owners to remedy problem infrastructure.  Beyond Portland, the group works with the American Bird Conservancy and with partners statewide to collect information and recommend solutions to building a bird safe future.

Birdsafe infrastructure already in Greater Portland:

Did you know that L.L. Bean is also a steward of these practices?  The company recently installed 19,000 square feet of ‘Feather Friendly’ decals (pictured below) on their headquarters in Freeport and are moving forward with further installations on their construction projects later this spring.  These decals are vinyl dots spaced 2in by 2in apart - a spacing that deters even the smallest birds found in Maine from attempting passage through the glass.

Bird Friendly Yards and 100 Resilient Yards

Did you know you can make your yard bird-friendly? The way we craft and care for our lawns can have a profound impact on local ecosystems and impact bird safety and habitat in our communities. Introducing native plants to your yard supports bird species directly, as birds can eat native plants with fruits and seeds or the insects that are attracted to native plants! 

This spring, the City of South Portland will launch 100 Resilient Yards, a program aimed to transform South Portland’s landscape into resilient, ecologically beneficial spaces. 100 selected yards across the City will be assessed and given the tools, resources, and assistance to make their yard resilient through five potential designs, such as a pollinator garden or rewilded yard. Rewilded yards and pollinator gardens are a fantastic way to make your yard bird-friendly!

Any South Portland resident can apply to be a part of this program, be on the lookout for program and application information this spring.

Further Reading

Truthfully, being bird safe and bird friendly is something the One Climate Future team is just beginning to learn about. To supplement this newsletter– and hopefully your interest in being bird friendly and safe– here is some recommended further reading and listening:

Reading

Listening 

Upcoming Events/Input Opportunities

Provide Input: The Greater Portland Council of Governments, a regional planning agency, is working to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries in the region. Take this short survey and/or drop a pin on this transportation hazard map to tell planners what roads, intersections, crosswalks, etc. make you feel unsafe. Your input will help shape their Vision Zero Action Plan, a draft of which will be ready this spring. Sign up here to stay up-to-date on project progress. You can read more about this effort here.

February 15-16th at 5:30-7:30pm
Community Spoke training with Bicycle Coalition of Maine: Become more involved in making their community more bike/pedestrian friendly. You’ll provide a voice for your fellow cyclists and pedestrians by promoting infrastructure, policies, and programs. With ongoing assistance to Spokes and their committees you will receive training, strategic advocacy, online toolkit, and more by becoming a Community Spoke.

Wed, Feb 15th 6:30pm - Thu 16th 7:30pm | 447 Main St, Norway, ME
Annual Seed Swap with the Center for an Ecology-Based Economy: Bring your extra seeds and find some new ones from your neighbors to try. We'll have seed-starting calendars and gardening books to borrow. You don't need to bring seeds to participate.

Tuesday, February 21st, 5:30-7 pm | Virtual via Zoom
Sustainability Series with the Portland Public Library: Building a Sustainable City! Portland's Office of Sustainability will talk about their work to implement the strategies described in One Climate Future. They will highlight several ongoing initiatives including Electrify Everything, Community Composting, and organic landcare practices. They will also share information about the new Sustainable Neighborhood Program that will launch this spring. 

Volunteer Opportunity: Cultivating Community is looking for gardeners interested in taking a volunteer* leadership role at their community garden site in 2023. Please reach out to volunteer@cultivatingcommunity.org if you are interested in getting more involved. We will identify how your skills and interests will fit a leadership opportunity. * A small stipend may be available – please ask!

Let’s Chat

One Climate Future is a people-based plan, and we can’t do this alone. Invite Sustainability Staff to speak at your events and collaborate with your network/organization on the work ahead. Get in touch through the One Climate Future website.

www.oneclimatefuture.org
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