30-Year Bird Study Findings Released

The 30-year Bird Study releases final report!

 News from the 2024 Cooperative Forestry Research Unit (CFRU) Spring Newsletter

The project team for the CFRU-supported 30-Year Bird Study released their final findings in early March 2024. The study was lead by John Hagan of Our Climate Common and included a number of scientists from the original study. The researchers replicated a study from the early 1990s that documented which bird species were using Maine’s commercial forests as habitat. Returning to the same study area in the Moosehead Lake region of Maine and repeating the study three decades later provides insights into how Maine’s commercial forests are supporting regional and national bird conservation today. While there is national concern over declining bird populations, this regional study found that 33 (70%) of the 47 species detected in the original and current study increased in abundance. Please take some time to read the full report to discover why the commercial forests of Maine have become even more important for bird conservation over the last 30 years.

“North American breeding bird populations have declined by an estimated three billion individuals (30%) since 1970. Habitat loss and degradation are likely the primary causes of declines. Maine’s commercial forest is the largest contiguous tract of intact (non-developed) forest east of the Mississippi and is in the heart of the largest globally significant Important Bird Area in the contiguous U.S. What role does this enormous, undeveloped landscape play in continental-scaled bird conservation today?” – Our Climate Common, The 30-year Bird Study

The report authors conclude that, in the face of ongoing human development and continental declines in bird populations, the commercial forests of Maine appear to be functioning as an important sanctuary for birds. Despite this positive news, the report cautions that factors beyond Maine can negatively affect species, especially migratory species that overwinter in the Neotropics.

Read the final report

Hagan, J., S. Levy, K. Anderson, P. McKinley, M. Reed, J. Gunn, and B. Shamgochian. 2024. The Thirty-year
Bird Study: The role of Maine’s commercial forest for regional and national bird conservation, 1992-2022.
Our Climate Common Report, Georgetown, Maine. 39 pp.

Project- 30YR Bird Project