Birds of Down East Maine

Down East Maine has a variety of habitats and ecosystems that provide nesting, wintering migration, and year-round homes to a majority of the 418 bird species that have been seen in the State. Our festival bird list notes over 230 birds you might see in late May. During our first four festivals, participants have found 208 different birds.

The Down East Spring Birding Festival includes one of WildBird's Top 50 Birding Hotspots: Machias Seal Island, which WildBird called "the best location in America to see Atlantic Puffins." Not only are there hundreds more puffins on Machias Seal Island than on any other island off the Maine coast, it is the only island on which visitors routinely land. Besides puffins, you may observe Double-crested and Great Cormorants; Common and Thick-billed Murre; Leach's Storm Petrel; Razorbill; and Arctic, Common, and Roseate Terns.

Key coastal species include the Atlantic Puffin, Black Guillemot, and Common Eider. The American Woodcock is a secretive migratory upland game bird that can be seen here. Significant marsh and water birds include Wilson’s Snipe, Pied-billed Grebe, Virginia Rail, Least and American Bitterns, and Sora. Boreal Chickadee, Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, and crossbills are representative of the variety of the area's boreal species. Some two dozen species of nesting warblers illustrate the many neo-tropical songbirds that migrate through eastern Maine or nest here sometime during the year. Specialized grassland nesting species, such as Bobolink, Upland Sandpiper and Nelson's Sparrow can also be found.

Most bird species Down East can be found in a number of locations. Below are several key locations in the area and some of the birds you may encounter here.

Cobscook Bay shoreline and tidal flats:

  • Short-billed Dowitcher
  • Dunlin
  • Common Eider
  • Black Guillemot
  • Great Black-backed, Herring, and Laughing Gulls
  • merganser
  • Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers
  • Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers
  • Wilson’s Snipe
  • Nelson's Sparrow
  • Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Willet

Roosevelt Campobello International Park and Campobello Island, New Brunswick:

Besides Alcids and Gulls, many boreal nesting species also can be found among the more than 150 bird species sighted here. The island has nesting locations of chickadees, jays, Merlin, thrushes, woodpeckers, and quite a few warblers and other songbirds. Also watch for Canada Geese, grosbeaks, and Blue-winged Teal.

West Quoddy Head State Park, Lubec:

  • Boreal Chickadee
  • Great Cormorant
  • Red and White-winged Crossbills
  • Northern Gannet
  • Spruce Grouse
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Gray Jays
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Black-legged Kittiwake
  • American Redstart
  • American Robin
  • Pine Siskin
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Hermit and Swainson's Thrush
  • Blue-headed (Solitary) Vireo
  • over a dozen warblers
  • Black-backed Woodpecker

Trescott, Lubec, and Campobello Island

Trescott, Lubec, and Campobello Island bogs and their surrounding shrub and forested edges are home to chickadees, flycatchers, kinglets, Merlin, sparrows, swallows, and warblers, as well as the Purple Finch, American Robin, Cedar Waxwing, and Common Yellowthroat. Grassland nesting species, such as Bobolinks; Field, Lincoln's, Nelson's Sharp-tailed, Savannah, Song, White-throated, and Vesper Sparrows, and sometimes Eastern Meadowlarks and Upland Sandpipers, are found in area blueberry fields and other grasslands.

Over 200 species of birds have been identified in Cobscook Bay State Park.

Eastport, particularly Carrying Place Cove and Shackford Head State Park, are home to a variety of gulls.

At least 220 bird species have been seen in the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. You may view Bald Eagle and Osprey on their nesting platforms. Other bird species prevalent during the spring breeding season include American Bittern; Boreal Chickadee; Black, Ring-necked, and Wood Duck; falcons; Canada Geese; Ruffed and Spruce Grouse; Great Blue Heron; American Kestrel; Eastern Kingbird; Belted Kingfisher; Common Loon; owls; Virginia Rail; Spotted Sandpiper; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; Northern Shrike; Sora; Green-winged Teal; American Woodcock; Pileated Woodpecker; Marsh Wren; and some two dozen warbler species.

Further west, headquartered in the town of Milbridge, is the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge contains 47 offshore islands and three coastal parcels, totaling more than 7,400 acres. The complex spans more than 150 miles of Maine coastline and includes five national wildlife refuges — Petit Manan, Cross Island, Franklin Island, Seal Island, and Pond Island. While the Fish and Wildlife Service focuses on restoring populations of nesting seabirds to the refuge's islands, many other bird species find habitat on refuge lands. Bald Eagle, wading birds, songbirds, waterfowl, and shorebirds visit the refuge to feed, nest, and rest. More than 300 bird species have been identified on the refuge.