Young Maine birders say they like the connection to nature – and the sheer joy of watching birds.
WESTBROOK — Actor Ian Carlsen starts his work week at 7 a.m. at a coffee shop on Portland’s Munjoy Hill, the neighborhood where he lives. Two weeks ago, with a hot coffee and scone to go, the 33-year-old then drove to a wild, wooded enclave outside Portland for a few hours of his favorite outdoor fix.
Carlsen, who acts in television commercials and for two Portland theater companies, is not here to hike, trail run, or mountain bike, activities often associated with millennials. He comes to bird.
A birder of six years, Carlsen is a volunteer for the state’s year-old bird atlas project, which is documenting, for the first time, the bird species that breed across the state. Birding, he realized in his 20s, is his calling, if not his profession.
Carlsen is part of the growing number of millennials across the county interested in spotting and identifying birds. Outside the state, conservation agencies are reporting more millennials – now ages 23 through 38 – who bird. Maine does not break down birder statistics by age, but long-time birders say they’ve noticed the trend here, at least in a small way.
Since National Audubon began tracking its demographics more closely, it has seen an uptick in the number of members in their 20s and 30s, from 9 percent of their 1 million members in 2017 to 12 percent of the organization’s 1.4 million membership this year, said Chandler Lennon, media relations manager for National Audubon.
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