• Ian Carlsen

2020 Resolutions for a Year of Birds

Happy New Year! As 2019 slowly fades in the back of our minds like a beer and champagne inspired hangover, a whole new decade of birds and nature stretches out before us. Since every blog and podcast under the sun is talking about resolutions, I figured Eco Ornis should get in on the action too. So I asked the team if they had any resolutions, predictions, or humble brags for 2020, and to spice things up a bit, I threw in a curveball question:

What is your resolution for the next decade?

Here’s what they responded:

Ed Jenkins

For 2020: I’ve lived in Maine for a year now and am acutely aware of how much there is still to explore. I plan to get out to some new parts of the state, especially during the Maine Breeding Bird Atlas season, and make the most of my time here. My Maine life list is currently sitting at 289, so I’d also like to see if I can hit 300 in 2020. I still need some relatively low hanging fruit such as great horned and saw-whet owls, as well as yellow-throated vireo, while Bicknell’s thrush beckons me to the mountains. I’d also like to find a rarity or two myself, and plan to bird my local patches hard. Surely it’s time for a European shag in Maine!?

For the Decade: The next decade will be critical for the climate, and therefore, the environment, the birds, and all of us. 2019 saw worldwide protests culminating in the Global Climate Strike in September, with young people forcing us to look at the climate crisis in a new, urgent, light. I am determined to focus more of my energy on promoting a sustainable, livable future, through activism for conservation change via organizations like 350 Maine, extinction rebellion, and through writing for this blog and my scientific research on marine ecology.

Julia Gulka

For 2020: My two favorite aspects of Maine, perhaps unsurprisingly, are the mountains and the sea. While in 2019 I managed to visit, hike, and bird some of the more well-known wild places like Acadia National Park and Baxter State Park, I am determined in 2020 to explore beyond the places found when googling “Top Ten places to visit Maine”. Birding for me is both an escape and a reason to explore new places, and so my 2020 resolution is to bird, hike, camp, swim, paint, and explore new mountains, coastline, and forests in Maine.

For the decade: The environment and birds we care for so dearly are under many threats, the largest of which is the climate crisis. Among the laundry list of impacts, we are seeing ice sheets and glaciers melting, temperatures and sea levels rising, and changes in large-scale weather patterns. Not only does this impact wildlife, causing changes in distributions and increasing risk of extinction in many species, but it also impacts humans. These impacts, such as increased food and water insecurity, disproportionately affect disadvantaged groups. My resolution for the decade is to contribute to the movement for a more sustainable and climate-just future. What does that actually mean? I will continue working to understand the impacts of renewable energy such as offshore wind on birds and other wildlife in the hopes of helping to turn the tides of energy production away from fossil fuels. I will work to reduce my personal carbon footprint, through buying local and reducing food waste, reducing plastic consumption, and biking to work. Finally, I will become more involved in politics and community, to ensure that we elect those that will stand up for the environment and wildlife and work to reduce social injustice locally and globally.

Doug Hitchcox

For 2020: I’m looking forward to hitting a few big numbers in 2020: A trip to Costa Rica in January for Maine Audubon with Field Guides Inc should get my world life list over 1,000. Locally, I’ve got just two counties left in Maine with under 100 species, and three counties that I have seen less than 50% of the county’s total. Passing those benchmarks are very achievable but will take dedicated effort. Going into year three of the Maine Bird Atlas, I’m hoping to do more remote atlasing but also really want to get my “species with confirmed breeding codes” up above 150 (currently at 113). Beyond numbers, my biggest resolution in birding is to be more purposeful, especially in my eBirding. I became a slave to the “checklist streak” and found myself entering really poor quality checklists just to keep the streak going. Now that I finally let myself break that streak, I find my effort is generating much better lists.

For the Decade: Listing is one of my greatest motivators in birding and seeing 400 species in Maine has been a goal ever since I started keeping track. I’m only aware of two birders to pull it off, both spent 40+ years doing it and have unfortunately passed in the last couple years. The faster information travels, the more birds one can see, and I really hope I can see 11 new species in Maine over the next decade...

Ian Carlsen

And what about me? Well that’s very kind of you to ask, imagined reader. I do happen to have a few things to say on this topic:

For 2020, I’m looking forward to a big change in my birding life. My wife and I will be welcoming a little baby boy around the end of March and from what I’ve heard that changes a lot in a persons life. I’m looking forward to adjusting my goals, birding a lot more by ear, and sneaking out to chase the occasional rarity. I’d also love to make a pilgrimage up to Birdsacre--also known as the Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary--in Ellsworth, ME, to honor one of Maine’s pioneering ornithologists, Cordelia Stanwood. Who knows, maybe I’ll write about it!

For the next decade, I’m resolving to get more politically involved for the sake of the birds and for the wild spaces. (And to support healthcare for everyone, and protect black, queer, and female rights. Because intersectionality, duh.) The 10’s were a decade of bad bird news. Not to be a bummer, but hopefully we all realize that the only time to save what we have left is now.

Go love some birds.

Happy 2020 everyone.