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. Here, spectacular bird watching is a four-season event.
At the height of winter, seabirds are abundant along rocky capes and protected bays. Inland, bare trees make it easier to spot nuthatches, juncos, black-capped chickadees (the state bird), and the occasional cedar waxwing. As night falls, there is the possibility of sighting a solitary owl out for the hunt. Maine is on the Atlantic flyway, and spring is an exciting time as the migration north brings first-of-the-season sightings of warblers, vireos, orioles, flycatchers and other seasonal visitors. The summer months bring an even greater variety of birds, including the ruby-throated hummingbird. This is a great time of year to paddle some of the state’s inland waterways in search of the common loon. These birds are easily identified by their red eyes and haunting cry. As fall approaches, birders pull out their binoculars to watch flocks of birds reverse their spring routes, beginning the journey back south toward warmer climates.
One of the many birds that can be spotted in Maine year-round is the bald eagle. 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.
The highlight of any Maine birding experience is a visit to 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.
Maine is a must-see destination for any birder looking to add to his or her life list. To help you plan your trip, a new Maine Birding Trail brochure highlighting the best bird watching spots in Maine is now available. The brochure, designed for both the casual and serious birder can be found at tourist information centers, select state parks around Maine and can be downloaded here.