Hearing the rhythmic chant of a whip-poor-will drifting from the woods of western Maine ignited my ecological curiosity and passion for conservation. These birds, once notable for their widespread nature, have declined such that I hadn’t encountered one in my nearly two decades of rambling the Maine woods.

That encounter led me to found the Maine Nightjar Monitoring Project, an effort that coordinates data collection on Eastern whip-poor-will and common nighthawk – two birds that face major threats throughout their breeding ranges, including here in Maine. By enlisting volunteers to observe these birds, we’re growing our knowledge of them. This will inform their conservation as well as the conservation of other threatened flora and fauna.

Maine’s birds, including nightjars, are dwindling because of threats like climate change, habitat loss and pollution. On average, one in four birds has disappeared from North America since 1970.

I’m dedicated to field ecology and advocacy for bird habitat protection, but individuals like me alone cannot curtail the widespread and catastrophic biodiversity losses that we’re witnessing around the globe. I urge U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a conservation champion, to expand Endangered Species Act funding.

The ESA is one of the best tools we have to support at-risk fish, wildlife and plants and put them on the path to recovery, but funding hasn’t kept pace with the challenges these species face. Increased ESA funding is needed, and I urge Rep. Pingree, as House chair of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, to make this a priority.

Logan Parker

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