40 ways to help conserve Maine’s birds

Mon, 03/16/2020 - 8:00am

Our beautiful state is turning 200 this year! But Maine wouldn’t be “Maine” without our fish, wildlife, and recreation opportunities. Celebrate with us by learning 200 ways YOU can help conserve Maine for generations to come.

Here are 40 ways you can help conserve Maine’s birds, from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

1. Design your property to attract birds by planting certain shrubs, flowers and trees like shadbush, elderberry, wild raisin, sunflowers, echinacea, bee balm, and salvia. Learn more about creating a bird-friendly yard.

2. Participate in the Maine Bird Atlas citizen science project! Attend the 2020 Season Kickoff Volunteer Meeting on Saturday, April 4 at Colby College to learn more.

3. Fish lead free to protect Common Loons and other water birds. Birds consume small pebbles to help crush up food and sometimes mistake lead lures for pebbles, often leading to death.

4. Purchase a Maine Birder Band. Funds from the sale of birder bands support Maine birds, habitat conservation, and land access.

5. When filing your Maine state taxes, say yes to the “Chickadee Check-off” on the charitable contributions page to donate to the Endangered & Nongame Wildlife Fund.

6. Discard unusable fishing line in a fishing line recycling receptacle or dispose of it in a trash container. Birds and other wildlife usually cannot survive the injuries they sustain from entanglements.

7. If you care, leave them there. Leave nesting areas alone, mother birds often leave their young to forage and will return later. If you find an injured bird, call a local rehabilitator: Avian HavenCenter for Wildlife, or Acadia Wildlife Center.

8. Donate to an avian rehabilitator in MaineAvian HavenCenter for Wildlife, or Acadia Wildlife Center.

9. Purchase a Loon Conservation Registration Plate to provide funding for Maine’s Endangered and Nongame Wildlife Fund.

10. Make your outdoor cat a happy inside cat, click here for tips. Cats are known to kill up to 3.7 billion birds a year in the U.S. alone!

11. Please don’t leave yarn scraps, twine, or other manmade material outside for songbirds to use for their nests. While the intention is good, birds should be able to find materials on their own. Manmade material can easily get tangled around birds.

12. Safeguard your windows to prevent bird collisions. Learn more about ‘bird-friendly’ glass.

13. If you choose to use bird feeders, place them within three feet of your house or farther than 15 feet away to help prevent collisions.

14. Continue to help protect Maine’s Piping plovers by avoiding fenced or restricted areas, observing from a distance, keeping pets off the beach or leashed, and preventing predators by not leaving food scraps. Maine’s Piping plovers are endangered, but MDIFW has been seeing improvements.

15. If you hunt, use non-lead ammunition. One piece of lead the size of a grain of rice can be lethal to an eagle. Please consider making the switch to help ensure bald eagles and other avian scavengers are not exposed to microscopic lead bullet fragments that remain in the carcass scavengers may eat.

16. Join the Heron Observation Network of Maine and find out if there is a nearby great blue heron colony you can adopt to monitor nesting activity.

17. If you live on a body of water, participate in the LakeSmart program to keep water quality at its best for animals like loons. Go the extra mile to protect loon habitats and loon young by earning the LoonSmart sticker!

18. Participate in Global Big Day on May 4, 2020 to contribute bird sightings all over the world! Of the 900 bird species in North America, 427 have been documented in Maine.

19. Participate in the Annual Loon Count on Saturday, July 18, 2020 to contribute data to the Maine Audubon.

20. Photograph responsibly! If a bird is looking at you, you are most likely too close.

21. Support birds of prey by becoming a member of The Peregrine Fund or making a donation to the Little Egg Foundation.

22. Don’t mow, let it grow! Allowing a small part of a lawn to convert to a meadow goes a long way for wildlife and lost grassland habitats. Learn more.

23. Purchase a Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund lottery ticket or request your local store to stock them if they don’t already. Proceeds help fund critical statewide wildlife and conservation projects.

24. Avoid using rodenticides, and learn about safer alternatives for raptors.

25. Help protect local rivers, lakes, and bays from polluted runoff by following beneficial practices around your land.

26. Avoid boating in areas where hen eiders are feeding with their ducklings.

27. Support our Maine birds that migrate to tropical areas by purchasing bird-friendly coffee, certified organic coffee that is grown on farms with a shade cover that provides important habitat for migratory and resident birds.

28. What’s your favorite bird species? Say it with a sponsor! Click here to support the Maine Bird Atlas by sponsoring one or more of Maine’s 253 breeding and wintering bird species!

29. Plant a native tree or flower that you can enjoy for a lifetime when celebrating special occasions or the passing of a loved one. Never release balloons or Chinese lanterns.

30. Think of loons when you are on a lake or pond. Loon nests are very low to the water and wakes can often flood the nests, so boaters should leave “no wake” within 200 feet of any shoreline (it’s a law), and always stay away from nesting areas if kayaking or canoeing.

31. Keep your lights off at night. Light pollution can cause disorientation in nocturnal animals, especially when migrating.

32. Become a member of Ducks Unlimited or the National Wild Turkey Federation.

33. If you purchase any bird through a pet store, do not release it into the wild! This can cause an invasive introduction and disrupt the ecosystem.

34. Let owls rest. If you spot an owl, don’t stay too long and don’t advertise their location. Even if they don’t seem bothered by your presence, you could scare their prey, leaving a hungry owl with one less meal. 

35. Take someone birding or try it yourself! Birding is a great way to spend time outside and learn about Maine’s species. And don’t forget to contribute your observations to the Maine Bird Atlas!

36. When looking for birds, bring your binoculars to make keeping your distance easier.

37. If you find a bird that is stunned from flying into a window or building, put a box over it and call an avian rehabilitator in MaineAvian HavenCenter for Wildlife, or Acadia Wildlife Center.

38. Purchase State and Federal Duck Stamps, whether or not you’re a duck hunter, to support waterfowl conservation and management.

39. Enjoy Maine blueberries. The Downeast bluberry fields are a vital habitat for our state threatened Upland sandpipers.

40. Always use best practices. Set a good example for others by demonstrating respect for wildlife and their environment by doing things like picking up litter and keeping your distance.