Q: You’ve been all over the country! Where will you be working with Audubon?
A: I will be working on several forest bird conservation projects throughout New York. We currently have some focus areas including the Allegheny highlands, where we will be working with Audubon Mid-Atlantic staff, and areas in northern NY where we will be collaborating with Connecticut and Vermont. Our bird-friendly maple program welcomes maple producers from any area CT, NY, or VT.
Q: What specific projects will be the focus of your work?
A: We currently have a few active grants that will be the main drivers behind my day-to-day work. Two of those grants focus mainly on outreach and education to engage with landowners and conservation partners within our project areas. We will then work with interested landowners by doing in person habitat assessments and giving recommendations for forest management. Another grant focuses primarily on our Forester Training and Endorsement program where we train professional foresters on silvicultural practices that they can implement during their work to create better habitat for forest birds. I will also be working to expand our bird-friendly maple program by working with maple producers across NYS.
Q: What gets you excited about Audubon’s work?
A: I love Audubon’s approach to forest management and creating better habitat for forest birds. Audubon really looks at the landscape as a whole and finds areas to prioritize forest management that will allow us to have the greatest impact. Through forest management Audubon can help create more resilient and diverse forests that support a whole suite of forest birds. I really appreciate how Audubon prioritizes building and maintaining relationships with conservation partners which allows us to have a larger impact on the landscape.
Q: Tell us a bird story!
A: While working with the US Forest Service it was normal for me to keep an eye out for nests (especially raptor nests) that we may need to protect during a timber sale. One bird I always kept an eye for was a Northern Goshawk; I knew that they were fairly rare in the part of Michigan that I was working in, but I was excited about the possible opportunity to see one.
One day when I was working by myself marking trees for a timber sale, I heard a bird in the distance making some noise and didn’t think too much of it. I kept working and eventually the bird got much louder and I saw it flying around the trees above me. This was when I first realized that it could be a goshawk which was quickly confirmed when the bird started flying really close to me and even swooping down to just a few feet above my head to try to scare me away. I knew that I must be getting close to its nest, so I ended up leaving the stand to give the bird some space. I knew that Goshawks can be very territorial around their nests, but it was another thing to see it first-hand. Although I felt bad for disturbing her, it was certainly an exciting bird encounter.
Q: If a maple producer invited you out to assess their sugar bush, what’s the first question you would ask them? And of course, what’s your favorite maple product?
A: I would love to ask them how they got interested in making maple syrup. I grew up making maple syrup with my family and I enjoy learning about how people got started with syrup production. I think it’s also an amazing way to learn a little more about the producers and their goals for their property. It’s hard to pick a favorite maple product as they are all delicious, but I have fond memories of collecting snow from outside our sugar shack with my brothers to make maple snow cones out of.