AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s vast birding community now has a means for turning the hobby into significant scientific help.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Maine Birding Trail and Cornell University have launched a state-specific version of eBird — a popular birding site where birdwatchers share information about sightings, trips and trends.
There birders may submit their observations, look at data that have already been collected, view news stories relevant to Maine birders, read articles regarding Department research and conservation planning efforts, and consider volunteer opportunities.
MDIF&W Wildlife Biologist Steve Walker believes Maine’s eBird server will appeal to everybody.
“Birders are very passionate about birding, and we at the department hope to harness that passion and energy in a way that best informs our work, but also demonstrate our responsiveness to non-game bird resources and to a growing constituency of birders,” Walker said.
Marshall Iliff of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology said the Maine version of eBird will share information with the larger eBird.org site, giving birders data that are part of the bigger picture of birds and how they behave.
“By combining your observations with those of tens of thousands of other eBirders, eBird is providing the most up-to-date information on the status, occurrence, and movements of birds on this continent and around the world,” Iliff said.
The Maine eBird project is funded through MDIF&W, by birders who purchased Maine Birder Bands, and through a grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund. Maine Birder Bands are metal circular bands similar to those placed on migratory birds to track their movements and population status. The band, about the circumference of a small ring, can be worn on binocular/optical straps or similar gear. It carries the IF&W insignia, a registration number that is assigned to the wearer, and a number to call if someone finds lost binoculars/optics that belong to the registrant.
In 2009, Maine was the first state to create this voluntary program for birders to show their support for the Department’s bird conservation efforts. This year marks the third year of the program, and birders are purchasing bands from each year as a sign of support.
Maine Birder Bands and Maine eBird are a winning combination, Walker said.
“The birding community sometimes feels as if it doesn’t have a stake in Department operations,” he said. “The Maine Birder Band provides birders with a way to contribute in a similar fashion as hunters and anglers who purchase licenses, and eBird now offers birders a way to provide data so their recreational hobby can provide data our scientists can use in conservation planning.”
For more information about Maine Birder Bands, visit www.mefishwildlife.com.