Maine Is A Birding Paradise In The Northeast

lighthouse-maine-bird-watching Maine is the top destination for Bird-watchers all over the world with a total of 460 recorded bird species found in the state’s diverse habitats. Here are just a few of them:

Bird Species You’ll Find In Maine

The forests and fields of Maine are full of birds. There are numerous species of birds to spend hours watching. Here is a list and description of some of the birds you’ll find.

Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)

The largest seabird in North America, the Northern Gannet is known for its soft white color and striking triangular beak. These birds fly with steady and slow wingbeats, plunging straight down the minute they spot fish. They are found year-round off the coast of Maine and nest on the state’s many oceanside cliffs.

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

The Black-capped Chickadee is known to be the cutest bird species in Maine, thanks to its oversized head and tiny body. It is usually one of the first birds that Bird-watchers observe due to the species’ curious personality and tendency to investigate people and everything else in their immediate surroundings.

Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus)

These tiny short-legged shorebirds are pale gray with brown or black shoulder patches. They are a common sight in Maine’s many beaches, dashing in and out of the waves in search of small insects and crustaceans.

American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)

These long-legged waders can be seen elegantly gliding through shallow water or mudflats, sweeping its slender bill to catch aquatic invertebrates. Its large wingspan, long upturned beak, and distinct plumage make it a favorite among Maine’s many Birders.

Common Eider (Somateria mollissima)

With its large size and bulky shape, the Common Eider is considered to be the largest duck in the Northern Hemisphere and can usually be found along the eastern coast of Maine. This species is known among avid Bird-watchers for their distinct calls; the drake emits a strange “ah-ooh” that sounds almost human-like while the hen produces short and hoarse quacks.

Razorbill (Alca torda)

Razorbills are medium-sized seabirds with a deep black coat and a white underside. Its thick black beak is short and blunt, and its unique agility allows it to both fly and dive. It lives primarily in the water but can be found during the breeding season in Maine’s coastal cliffs where they situate themselves in enclosed crevices.

Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus)

This medium-sized woodpecker, also known as the Arctic Three-toed Woodpecker, is known for its distinct plumage and colorful appearance with the adult male possessing a yellow crown patch. It is one of three other species in the woodpecker family with only three toes on each foot, allowing them to lean farther back and deliver stronger blows to tree trunks.

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)

Better known as Hedwig from the Harry Potter book series and movie franchise, the Snowy Owl is one of the largest North American owls and is recognized for their distinct yellow eyes and black beaks. While adult males are generally pure white, females and young birds often have dark spots scattered all over its body.

Birding Hotspots In Maine

In addition to an abundance of bird species, Maine is also home to various Birding hotspots and state parks. Here are just a few of them. If you don’t already own a pair of binoculars, you see our pick for the best budget binoculars for birding or see a full review of the best binoculars across every price range.

Monhegan Island

sunset-monhegan-island-maine This small island off the coast of Maine is home to migratory land birds during the spring and autumn seasons, as well as year-round species including the Common Eider and the Northern Gannet. The island also has a number of inns and cottages where Bird-watchers can spend the night.

Scarborough Marsh

One of the more famous Birding hotspots in Maine, the 3,100-acre estuary offers nature trails and guided tours. There are plenty of shorebirds in this area, especially in August, while diving ducks, loons, and grebes can be observed during the migration season. Several species of Kingfishers, Sparrows, and Wrens can also be spotted in the Scarborough Marsh.

Acadia National Park

bar-harbor-acadia-national-park The park’s winding trails, cliffs, numerous ponds, and rugged shores are home to over 200 different bird species including Winter Wrens, Bald Eagles, and Peregrine Falcons. There are plenty of vantage points where Bird-watchers position themselves to scan their surroundings for a glimpse of these birds. The park also offers excursions to Birders and interested visitors, such as a seabird cruise from Bar Harbor for a chance to spot Razorbills and Atlantic Puffins. During the autumn season, a Hawk Watch on Cadillac Mountain leads to sightings of Bald Eagles, Merlins, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and more.

Maine Birding Trail

This unique birding trail is divided into 14 separate loops, weaving its way through hardwood forests, wild rivers, blueberry barrens, and beaver ponds, to name just a few. There are also plenty of departure points for boat excursions to offshore islands to observe the many seabirds who have made their homes there. The Maine Birding Trail truly is spectacular.

Kennebunk Plains

This 2,000-acre blueberry barren is full of many rare birds, such as the Vesper Sparrow and the Clay-colored Sparrow. In addition to these unusual species, the preserve has also identified over 170 different birds present within the area.

Birding Events In Maine

To cement their status as North America’s premier Bird-watching destination, even more, Maine has created plenty of events geared towards the popular pastime. Here are some of the more famous ones:

Acadia Birding Festival, Bar Harbor

The Acadia Birding Festival usually takes place in the last week of May or the first week of June and is the most famous Birding festival on the East Coast. Expert guides lead Birding excursions around Acadia National Park, allowing participants the chance to learn from experienced Bird-watchers.

Downeast Spring Birding Festival, Cobscook Bay, Whiting

This festival aims to provide guests with a unique Birding experience in the “real Maine” with events where Bird-watchers have the opportunity to observe different bird species in their natural environments. It usually takes place during the last week of May with plenty of professionally-guided hikes, boat tours, and presentations.

Rangely Birding Festival, Rangely

The Rangely Birding Festival was launched last 2019 by the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust and the Maine Audubon. It focuses on the boreal birds found in the northern forest of Maine, such as the Black-backed Woodpecker and the Spruce Grouse. As it takes place quite late in the season – the second week of June – attendees have the chance to observe birds on their natural breeding grounds with behaviors not commonly seen during the migration season.

This guide is merely a brief overview of the many wonderful bird species, hotspots, and activities that Maine is known for. Avid Birders and those interested in the hobby are encouraged to visit the Pine Tree state themselves to better experience its extraordinary offerings.

 

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