Whether you are a seasoned birder, or someone who just received their first pair of binoculars and a birding guide this past Christmas, Spring at the Maine Beaches, is an ideal time and place to spot hundreds of bird species, many of which uniquely call this place ‘home’. We invite you to grab your gear (including your camera and tri-pod!), map your route along our miles of coastline, marshes, and wooded lands, and prepare to be amazed by the sights and sounds of our feathered treasures!
The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1966 in cooperation with the State of Maine to protect valuable salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. Located along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties, the refuge consists of eleven divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth. The proximity of the refuge to the coast and its location between the eastern deciduous forest and the boreal forest creates a composition of plants and animals not found elsewhere in Maine. Major habitat types present on the refuge include forested upland, barrier beach/dune, coastal meadows, tidal salt marsh, and the distinctive rocky coast. Birds you might spot here include threatened and endangered species like the Piping Plover and the New England Cottontail, as well as the American Bald Eagle, Salt Marsh Sharp-Tail Sparrows, loons, a variety of ducks and geese, gulls, stern, hawks and Northern Harriers.
This local treasure has a bird list of around 240 and protects habitats including salt marsh, forest, and Atlantic Ocean beach. The Maine Coastal Ecology Center here features exhibits explaining ongoing research on estuarine environments. Visitors can walk seven miles of trails, including a Salt Marsh Loop, a Forest Interpretive Trail, and a path to the beach at the mouth of the Little River. Birds that might be seen here in summer include Wild Turkey, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Piping Plover, Willet, Least Tern, Common Tern, Alder Flycatcher, Veery, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Nelson’s Sparrow, and Bobolink. Common Eider is present year-round, as are scoters and Red-necked Grebe (albeit more sporadically). Shorebirds are most common in August.
Located on Highway 99 about 5 miles west of Kennebunk, this preserve is a largely treeless 2,000-acre habitat called a blueberry barrens. Old roads make walking easy for those who’d like to explore a natural area with several rare animals and plants. Birders know Kennebunk Plains as breeding grounds for regionally rare or unusual species. Among them are Upland Sandpiper, Grasshopper Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow (scarce), and Vesper Sparrow. The local bird list of 170-plus species includes much more than the specialties, including Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Broad-winged Hawk, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Alder Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Horned Lark, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, Bobolink, and Eastern Meadowlark.
The coastal town of Biddeford has long been a favorite location for seeing waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds. Popular spots include an enclosed bay called Biddeford Pool and Maine Audubon’s East Point Sanctuary. Access is not straightforward, though. To bird the pool, follow Highway 208 south to Hattie’s restaurant, park and ask permission, and then walk to the pool to scan for wintering Brant and ducks, summer wading birds, and shorebirds. A falling tide is best, and a spotting scope is very helpful. East Point Sanctuary, on Orcutt Boulevard, also has limited parking. It’s worth angling for a space. From fall to spring, visitors can see Brant, all three scoters, Long-tailed Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Northern Gannet, Great Cormorant, Purple Sandpiper, Razorbill, and Black Guillemot, to name a few regular species. Be careful on the sanctuary’s rocks and respect private property as you explore this area.
For more information on other bird trails and birding opportunities at the Maine Beaches, including Berwick’s Harvard Turf Farm, Sanford Lagoons, and Ogunquit’s Beach Plum Farm (among others), make sure to visit the York County Audubon Society !
The Maine Beaches hosts a number of Spring events, each one a perfect excuse to visit us more than once a year!
Visit TheMaineBeaches for more information on the dozens of fun, unique events held here throughout the year!
Time to get your plan on! The 2018 Maine Beaches Visitor Guide is available for download and in flip book format at TheMaineBeaches.com. The new guide has significantly expanded content and is filled with insider tips for making your Maine Beaches vacation perfect from beginning to end. Our new calendar of events now makes it easy to see what’s happening here at a glance, and our expanded map and lighthouses pages provide you with exact locations, travel tips and landmarks. We’re excited to unveil our new magazine and know you’re going to love all the improvements. Happy planning!
Masthead: Cedar Waxwings, Kevin Tuttle
Sidebar: Eagles in Action, Greg Kretschmar Photography