Maine Audubon wildlife ecologist Sally Stockwell will give a one-hour presentation titled “What’s Happening to Our Birds?” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9. Courtesy photo by Doug Hitchcox

FARMINGTON — Maine Audubon wildlife ecologist Sally Stockwell will give a one-hour presentation, “What’s Happening to Our Birds?,” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9. The talk — originally scheduled as an in-person event at UMF — will be broadcast instead as a live webinar due to COVID-19 restrictions. Check the website,, prior to the talk to confirm the link to the webinar.

Stockwell’s talk will examine the decline in forest bird numbers in the region and throughout North America. She will also discuss steps to take as individuals and as a society to help mitigate further declines. The talk is sponsored by Western Maine Audubon and is free and open to the public.

Sally Stockwell, director of conservation, Maine Audubon Submitted photo

The numbers are staggering. A recent article in the journal Science documents declines among 64 percent of all eastern forest bird species — a loss of 167 million birds — and among 50 percent of all boreal forest species — a loss of 501 million birds — in North America alone. That means nearly one in four of all eastern forest birds and one in three of all boreal forest birds that were in the fores in 1970 are no longer here.

There are many reasons for the declines. Some of the more persistent are habitat loss on breeding and wintering grounds, loss or degradation of migratory stopovers, decline or contamination of insect food from overuse of pesticides, collisions with windows and other human structures and predation from cats. Individuals can take simple steps to steward birds and habitat, and every little bit helps. Maine can do more than a little bit; residents can play an outsized role in helping to stem the decline.

Maine has the largest remaining block of forest in the eastern U.S. and these forests are vital to the breeding success of millions of forest songbirds every year. Maine is the “baby bird factory” for the entire Atlantic Flyway. Because of that, much of northern and western Maine has been designated as a globally significant Important Bird Area by National Audubon and BirdLife International.

All landowners in the region with grasslands or forestlands can help change that by creating or improving habitat for birds in Maine.

Stockwell is director of conservation at Maine Audubon. She is a wildlife ecologist with experience in conservation of nongame, rare and endangered species in freshwater wetlands, coastal beaches and marshes, and northern forests. She has additional experience as an interpretive naturalist, environmental education instructor and outdoor adventure leader.

Stockwell holds a PhD in wildlife ecology and an MS in wildlife management from the University of Maine and a BS in biology from the Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington. In 2008, she was the recipient of the UMaine Department of Wildlife Ecology Award for Professional Excellence for long-term career service to wildlife conservation. Stockwell serves on numerous state committees and has been involved in town planning and open space planning.

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