Spanning granite peaks, deciduous and coniferous forests, and rocky coastlines, Maine is one of North America’s top birding destinations. Each year, over 3,330 different bird species can be seen throughout the state. While Maine winters are harsh, you’ll find plenty of birds that live here year-round, including the beautiful harlequin duck. The best time of year to visit Maine for birding opportunities is during the breeding season in June and July. While there are many places across the state to go birdwatching, we recommend these five great hikes.
Encompassing over 3,000 acres, the Scarborough Marsh is one of the state’s largest saltwater marshes. The marsh is home to an abundance of waterfowl and wading birds, especially during migration season. You’ll see tons of great blue herons, snowy egrets, and glossy ibises. During the winter months, you can see rough-legged hawks and even a rare snowy oak. The Eastern Trail is a great way to experience the marsh by foot. For a closer view of the birds, rent a canoe at the Maine Audubon Nature Center.
Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg is a bird lover’s paradise. In the winter months, you’ll see hordes of red-throated loon, scooters, buffleheads, and long-tailed ducks. In the summer, piping plovers and least terns can be seen breeding amongst the beach grass. The nearby salt marsh is home to many great blue herons and snowy egrets. A walk along the beach and nature trails are a great way to watch for shorebirds.
Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island is a massive national park with several distinct areas to bird watch. Thompson Island is one of the best places in the winter to spot eiders, goldeyes, and other waterfowl. For colorful and cheerful songbirds, visit the Sieur de Monts Spring. The Precipice Trail is the premier spot to peregrine falcons nesting in the area. Acadia National Park has numerous hiking trails to see various bird species as well as the gravel carriage trails near Jordan Pond.
Popular with thousands of hikers, Grafton Notch State Park is more than just pretty mountain tops. Between the granite peaks of Old Speck and Baldpate Mountain, the Bear River winds through the forest where Philadelphia vireos, boreal chickadees, and other songbirds can be heard signing in the bush. Peregrine falcons often nest high above on the cliffs.
Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Milford encompasses over 11,000 acres just north of Bangor. Established in 1988, the wildlife refuge is a breeding ground for waterfowl, wading birds, and other species of birds. The Carter Meadow Road is a two-mile loop of hike to an observation platform with views of the entire wetlands below. The many other hiking and walking trails offer a chance to see boreal chickadees, gray jays, and black-backed woodpeckers.