November 23, 2017

A Discovery of Maine Rivers and Dedicated Birders

Maine Audubon Speaker Series – Birding for the Birds: A Discovery of Maine Rivers and Dedicated Birders
Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Location: Gilsland Farm

If you remove a dam from a river and allow it to flow again, what happens to the birds, fish, and insects that live there? In the spring of 2009, one group of Maine birders joined an effort to find out. Over fifty passionate birders volunteered to join an innovative partnership with University of Maine researchers in a project with the goal of better understanding the links between rivers and birds by conducting surveys along the banks throughout the state.

When you want to keep track of the health of an ecosystem, birds make good benchmarks. They range across small and large distances, and they feed at various levels of the food chain. With years of experience spotting river birds, or those species that depend on rivers to live, these volunteer birders are the right citizen-scientists for the job. They watch, for example, for osprey, which rely on a diet of fish; and for black ducks, which feed on snails, mussels, crayfish, and aquatic plants. They also keep track of tree swallows and chimney swifts, as these river birds eat untold numbers of mayflies, mosquitoes, and other flying “water bugs” that hatch in rivers.

What the birders learn along the riverbanks will shed light on how birds use the river and how they might be affected if the river is altered. Changes could include dam removal and subsequent restoration of sea-run fishes, increased recreational use, and improved water quality. A healthy river means more resources—fresh water, good meals, and biodiversity—for both birds and people.

As an undergraduate at Michigan State University, Erynn Call participated in research pertaining to Ruffed Grouse survival, nest success, and habitat use. After graduating, she migrated to the Kansas Flint Hills and worked on another project that investigated hen turkey spring dispersal patterns. Erynn’s Master’s work at the University of Missouri examined multi-spatial relationships between habitat, community land management practices, and Bobwhite Quail ecology.

After graduating, Erynn worked as an avian ecologist in multiple positions at both the state and federal level that assisted with the Everglades restoration. Later, she returned to Michigan and worked for the Department of Natural Resources as a wildlife biologist. Erynn is currently working on her PhD at the University of Maine.

Contact: (207) 781-2330