2019 TALKS and WORKSHOPS
Sketches from the Seabird Capital of the World
with Abby McBride - Thursday 7:00pm
Abby will speak about her seabird-sketching adventures as a Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow in New Zealand, home to the world's most diverse and endangered seabirds. For the better part of a year she lived out of a car and tent, explored with her inflatable kayak, hitched rides on boats to remote islands, rappelled down seacliffs, and was chased by sea lions while meandering her way around New Zealand (twice). Meanwhile she wrote and illustrated stories for National Geographic about the remarkable things people are doing to reverse centuries of human-caused harm to penguins, prions, storm-petrels, shearwaters, shags, gulls, gannets, mollymawks, and more. With art and stories Abby aims to bring much-needed attention to the world's fastest-declining group of birds.
Birding: Medicine for the Soul
with Raymond VanBuskirk - Friday 7:00pm
We can probably all agree that the natural world brings depth and meaning to our lives; it offers deep connection to our natural heritage and escape from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. Arguably one of the most enjoyable aspects of birding is discovering and sharing the diversity of the birding experience with others. As the birding world continues to expand so does the list of reasons why people do it. One of Raymond's favorite questions to ask people is, "What has birding done for you?" People's answers are vastly different, but the number of people who have said, "Birding saved my life", struck Raymond deep and close to home. This is powerful stuff. Birding saves lives. Join Raymond as he shares his experience of growing up as a young birder. He will recount tragedy, grief, and the healing powers of nature, and why this is reason enough to do everything we can to protect it.
Humbled By Birds
with Doug Hitchcox - Saturday 5:30pm
Every time we go birding, we have the opportunity to learn something new. We can see new species, hear new vocalizations, observe new field marks, or even discover new behaviors. New discoveries are constantly being made and for even the most experienced birders or knowledgeable ornithologists, these can be unexpected or even unknown at the time. Doug will speak about some of the fun discoveries he has made while birding and the humbling stories behind his greatest identifications blunders. If you were looking at a bird that hadn't been seen in your state in over 100 years, would you be ready to ID it? Doug wasn't. Sometimes you can study our field guides endlessly, go birding every day, and still be unprepared when a rare bird walks right in front of you… or decays next to you on the beach… Doug's been there, and without being fully discouraged, has been humbled by these experiences from our feathered friends.
Birding with a Purpose: Maine Bird Atlas and How YOU can Help
Doug Hitchcox - Friday 10:30-11:30am
It's time for the 2nd year of the Maine Bird Atlas (www.maine.gov/birdatlas): a five-year effort to document the abundance and distribution of all breeding and wintering birds across the entire state of Maine! To be successful, we need people across the state to volunteer. Join Glen Mittelhauser, Director of Maine Natural History Observatory and coordinator of the Maine Bird Atlas, to learn about the history of the Maine Bird Atlas and how you can participate. Glen will describe some of the resources available on the website and how to report observations. The Maine Bird Atlas will be a fun new way to go birding in Maine, share sightings and contribute to a better understanding of Maine's birds.
Birding By Ear
Doug Hitchcox - Thursday 4:30-5:30pm
Kick off the festival with this special workshop to help you learn all those confusing songs eminating from the forest. It can be frustrating when you can't see those birds singing high in the trees or just out of sight in the dense thicket. Just six simple tips will help you organize what you are hearing and demystify birding-by-ear. The program trains you to take advantage of bird song information you already know. The presentation will focus on bird sounds that are commonly heard in Maine, but the principles are useful anywhere.
Doug Hitchcox - Friday 10:30-noon
Join Doug Hitchcox as he tells us how to best use eBird. The eBird website (ebird.org) is an increasingly popular website for birders to keep their personal records, access information about recent sightings, plan birding trips, and ask questions about bird occurrence. Come learn why so many people love eBird and how you can start using it too, or use it more effectively, to get the most out of it. eBird is free and open to everyone, from casual birders to scientists and conservationists. The eBird database already has more than 10,000 species reported and over 500 million records entered around the world! Even if you are already an eBird user, there is always more to learn from the expert.
Seabird ID Workshop
Doug Hitchcox - Friday 4:30-5:30pm
Ever get frustrated trying to identify those fast moving, far away pelagic seabirds on a rocking boat? Join us to learn techniques on how to improve your skills so you too can be the first to spot and id a jaegar, or shearwater, maybe even a fulmar, and tell the difference between razorbills and murres, and Wilson's and Leach's Storm-petrel as they dance across the water. If you are scheduled to be aboard the pelagic seabird boat trip Saturday morning, this talk is sure to make your experience that much more enjoyable. Whether you are a beginner, or already experienced seabirder, you're sure to take home some new information about identifying pelagic species.
How to Improve your Bird Song Identification Skills
Tom Stephenson - Sunday 10:30-11:30am
There's nothing more satisfying in birding than being able to recognize the birds singing and calling around you. The language for describing visual ID points for birds greatly helps us identify the species of an unknown bird. The lack of this language for songs makes it very difficult to know how to figure out an unknown song. In this talk we'll cover how to improve your song recognition and learning skills by using memory theory combined with the understanding of song and phrase structure. We'll also discuss an efficient language for describing vocalizations and give examples of how objective analysis of songs makes it much easier to separate similar-sounding species.
Sketching Birds with Abby
Abby McBride - Sunday 1:30-3:30pm