With its great wealth of undisturbed boreal forests, isolated offshore islands, and plentiful wetlands, Maine is home to a great many species of migratory and non-migratory birds. No matter whether you're a serious birder looking to add to your life list or a casual birder interested in the chance to observe birds in the wild, you'll find plenty of bird-watching opportunities all year long.
Maine Birding Trail
You can get expert advice on planning your trip through the Maine Birding Trail brochure, which highlights the best bird-watching spots in Maine. You can find the brochure—which is designed for both casual and serious birders—at tourist information centers and select state parks around Maine. You can also download it here.
Four-Season Bird Watching
At the height of winter, seabirds are abundant along rocky capes and protected bays. Inland, bare trees make it easier for you to spot nuthatches, juncos, black-capped chickadees (the state bird), and the occasional cedar waxwing. As night falls, you might see a solitary owl out for the hunt.
Maine is on the Atlantic flyway and if you visit in the spring, you can catch first-of-the-season glimpses of warblers, vireos, orioles, flycatchers, Canada geese and other seasonal visitors that have migrated north.
In the summer, you can see an even greater variety of birds, including the ruby-throated hummingbird. This is also a great time of year for you to paddle some of the state’s inland waterways in search of the common loon. You can easily identify loons by their red eyes and haunting cry.
As fall approaches, you can watch flocks of birds reverse their spring routes, beginning the journey back south toward warmer climates.
Schoodic Institute’s Bird Ecology Program in Acadia National Park monitors the flow of millions of birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway each spring and fall. Birders can help with long-term monitoring efforts from premier vantage points like Schoodic Point and Cadillac Mountain*. Programs include:
- Sea Watch records tens of thousands of loons, grebes, cormorants, gannets, ducks, geese, gulls, terns and other water birds that pass Schoodic Point.
- Hawk Watch, over its 25-year history, has documented 13 species of birds of prey flying over Cadillac Mountain, with an average annual total of 2,950 birds.
- Songbird Watch monitors thousands of songbirds, including warblers, vireos, and flycatchers at Frazer Point.
Tours are offered year-round, including Tuesday morning birding field trips in the winter and early spring, puffin cruises, and Katahdin-to-the-sea transects in partnership with the Maine Birding Trail.
The bald eagle is one of many birds you can spot in Maine year-round. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine's 500 pairs represent the largest population in the Northeast. The best place to seek them out is near the water’s edge, where they have easy access to fish and waterfowl.
For a unique birding experience, you can visit one of the two Atlantic puffin colonies accessible from the Maine coast. These little birds, sometimes called parrots of the sea, spend most of their lives on the ocean but come ashore in summer to nest on rocky islands. Though they are somewhat common in Canada and other regions near the Arctic Circle, these birds are rarely found nesting in U.S. waters.
- Project Puffin
- The Maine Audubon Society
- The Official Maine Birding Trail
- The Stanton Bird Club
- Maine Birder Band
*From May 26 through Oct 19, vehicle reservations are required for Cadillac Summit Road between sunrise and sunset.