My 10 Best Bird Watching Spots in Maine You Should Try

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Maine is a state in the northeastern United States that borders Canada in the north, and it has a long shoreline with the Atlantic Ocean. It can be difficult to know the best birding sites in Maine, so I wrote this blog on my best spots for bird watching.

The best bird watching spots in Maine are those with a range of habitats, like Arcadia National Park, and those that are on the Atlantic coast, such as Quoddy State Park, Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, and East Point Sanctuary. Sea birds can be seen at places like East Point and Monhegan Island.

A table giving the most interesting birds you can see at each of my top 10 birding spots in Maine:

Scarborough MarshSaltmarsh Sparrow and Osprey
Acadia National ParkBald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon
Gilsland Farm Audubon CenterGlossy Ibis and Snowy Egret
Monhegan IslandCommon Eider and Black Guillemot
East Point Sanctuary and Biddeford PoolRazorbill and Red-necked Grebe
Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management AreaUpland Sandpiper and Grasshopper Sparrow
Quoddy Head State ParkCommon Loon and Great Black-backed Gull
Baxter State ParkSpruce Grouse and Northern Saw-whet Owl
Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm FarmWillet and Nelson’s Sparrow
Moosehorn National Wildlife RefugeSpruce Grouse and American Black Duck
Best Places to Bird Watch in Maine

Read on to learn more information about each of the best spots in Maine to see birds and to learn which species you can find in each of these spots.

Best Bird Watching Spots in Maine
Best Bird Watching Spots in Maine

TIP: If you want to check out the best pair of binoculars for bird watching, we recommend a pair of waterproof and fog-proof 8 x 42 binoculars like the Celestron – Outland X 8×42 Binoculars (Amazon link).

Best Places to Bird Watch in Maine

Maine has a long coastline with the Atlantic Ocean and various other habitats as well. This means that there are many good places where you can go bird watching in Maine.

1. Scarborough Marsh

This is a 3,100-acre area that includes an estuary and salt marsh. There is an Audubon Center on Pine Point Road where you can stop and find more information, including a map of the area.

In winter, you can find loons, ducks, and other waterfowl, while summer is the peak time to find sandpipers and other shorebirds, especially in late summer, August.

You can also see various egrets and herons here. Some of the species to watch for include:

  • Snowy Egret,
  • Little Blue Heron,
  • Great Blue Heron,
  • Tricolored Heron,
  • and Green Heron.

In summer, one can see Glossy Ibises, Bald Eagles, and Ospreys.

Common Terns, Roseate Terns, and Belted Kingfishers can also be seen in this refuge. You can find Swamp Sparrows, Saltmarsh Sparrows, Virginia Rails, and Marsh Wrens in the marshy vegetation.

2. Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park has more than 230 bird species recorded. The park has cliffs, rocky shores, ponds, and coniferous and hardwood forests.

The range of habitats attracts a variety of birds. Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, and Ospreys nest in the park. You can find shorebirds like the Purple Sandpipers, which prefer rocky areas.

You can find birds in the sea, like Common Eiders, Red-throated Loons, Arctic terns, Black Guillemots, and Common Terns. You can go on a whale-watching boat to look for other oceanic birds, such as Atlantic Puffins and Common Murres. These tours are done from Bar Harbor.

You can look for birds while walking on the inland trails. Here you can watch for:

  • Magnolia Warblers,
  • Blackburnian Warblers,
  • Black-throated Blue Warblers,
  • Nashville Warblers,
  • Hermit Thrushes,
  • and Pine Siskins.

Hawk watching is regularly done from Cadillac Mountain in the fall. You can see raptors like:

  • Sharp-shinned Hawks,
  • Broad-winged Hawks,
  • Merlins,
  • Bald Eagles,
  • and Peregrine Falcons.

3. Gilsland Farm Audubon Center

The area has 2.5 miles of trails that pass through a variety of habitats. This refuge consists of grasslands, woodlands, and salt marshes and is 65 acres in size.

There are at least 250 bird species that have been recorded in the area. Birds that breed here include:

  • Snowy Egrets,
  • Glossy Ibises,
  • Great Egrets,
  • Alder Flycatchers,
  • and Bald Eagles.

You can find other species such as Black-and-white Warbler and Black-throated Green Warbler.

May is the best time to look for the most thrushes and warblers. In spring, the birds also have their breeding colors, making identification much easier than during fall migration.

Gilsland Farm Audubon Center also offers programs and camps throughout the year, so you should check to see if there is anything offered when you plan your trip here. You can see many shorebirds during summer, while ducks and grebes are more common in winter.

4. Monhegan Island

This island is 1.6 miles in size and is about 10 miles off the coast. The area serves as a good stopover for migrant species but also has many other birds, including oceanic birds. In fact, 311 species of birds have been observed on and around the island.

You definitely want to include Monhegan Island on your birding itinerary if you visit Maine. Birds you can find in the ocean include several species.

Specific oceanic bird species you can see from here include:

  • Common Eider,
  • King Eider,
  • Black Guillemot,
  • Northern Gannet,
  • Long-tailed Duck,
  • Great Cormorant,
  • and if you are lucky, Atlantic Puffin.

You can also see Red-necked Grebes, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Red-throated Loons in the water.

In the marshy areas, you can look for Sora and Virginia Rail. Corn Crake has been spotted but is uncommon. Shorebirds found here include:

  • Gray Plovers,
  • American Oystercatchers,
  • Semipalmated Sandpipers,
  • Sanderlings,
  • Dunlins,
  • and Purple Sandpipers.

There is a bird species checklist available that you can use to help you plan your trip here. It is also recommended that you book accommodation so you have more time on the island to bird watch.

TIP: Knowing how to spot the birds in your yard is key to enjoying visits from your winged friends as much as possible! The best sources are trusted books, I recommend using the following (Amazon links):
National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
National Audubon Society Birds of North America

5. East Point Sanctuary and Biddeford Pool

Biddeford Pool and Audubon’s East Point Sanctuary are good spots for seeing birds on and from the rocky shoreline. There is a record of 282 species of birds seen in this area.

You can see bird species like Black Guillemot, Razorbill, Red-breasted Merganser, Northern Gannet, Great Cormorant, Horned Grebe, White-winged Scoter, Red-necked Grebe, Black Scoter, and Red-throated Loon. You can also look for Great Black-backed Gulls flying in the area.

There are also records of Dovekies and Northern Gannets. Raptors to look out for include:

  • Merlins,
  • Rough-legged Hawks,
  • and Cooper’s Hawks.

Shorebirds to look for include:

  • Dunlins,
  • Spotted Sandpipers,
  • and Purple Sandpipers.

You can find passerines like:

  • the American Redstart,
  • Red-eyed Vireo,
  • and Nashville and Palm Warblers.

There is a full bird species checklist you can use for your trip here.

6. Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area

This is a 2,000-acre grassland area that provides habitat for many important birds that are of conservation concern. You can find 180 bird species at Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area. You can find such unusual bird species as:

  • the Upland Sandpiper,
  • Horned Lark,
  • Vesper Sparrow,
  • and Grasshopper Sparrow.

Other birds you can look for include:

  • Bobolinks,
  • Eastern Meadowlarks,
  • Chestnut-sided Warblers,
  • Prairie Warblers,
  • Ruffed Grouse,
  • and Wild Turkeys.

You should keep an eye out for raptors like the Broad-winged Hawks that are sometimes seen flying overhead.

The area is also known as the Blueberry Barrens and is managed through controlled burns, ensuring a good grassland environment for bird conservation.

7. Quoddy Head State Park

This state park is 541 acres in size and is situated in the easternmost part of the state. Various birds can be found in this area and you can see many birds out in the ocean. 

Some of the bird species recorded in and from Quoddy Head State Park include the following: Razorbill, Common Eider, Great Black-backed Gull, Black Guillemot, and Common Loon. Ospreys and Bald Eagles are seen in the area but Ospreys are typically seen in summer.

Summer is also when you can see Black Kittiwakes and Northern Gannets. In the inland area, you should walk the trails looking for warblers and other types of birds. In vegetation in the park, you can find birds like:

  • Blackpoll Warblers,
  • Magnolia Warblers,
  • Nashville Warblers,
  • Boreal Chickadees,
  • Brown Creepers,
  • Yellow-bellied Flycatchers,
  • and Red-breasted Nuthatches.

TOP TIP: Birds are a critical aspect of all ecosystems, and they know how to take care of one another. This article outlines how birds help spread berry seeds, and this article outlines how birds care for each other when they become injured.

8. Baxter State Park

This park has the 5,269-foot Mount Katahdin, and the park is 328 square miles in area.  It is a good spot to see birds found in the boreal forests. The park is at the northernmost part of the Appalachian Trail. It also is primitive, so you need to bring your supplies with you.

There is a list of suggestions on how to prepare for your trip to this park. There are over 200 miles to explore in this area, so you have many options for hiking and looking for birds.

Look for bird species such as the Spruce Grouse and Northern Saw-whet Owl in the forested areas. Other birds you can find here include:

  • Northern Goshawks,
  • Bicknell’s Thrush,
  • Gray Jay,
  • Boreal Chickadee,
  • Three-toed Woodpecker,
  • Black-backed Woodpecker,
  • and White-winged Crossbill.

You can also see Vireo species like the Philadelphia Vireo and Blue-headed Vireo. You can see the following species of warbler in the park:

  • Cape May Warbler,
  • Blackpoll Warbler,
  • and Bay-breasted Warbler.  

9. Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm

There are over 100 species of birds recorded here, making this an excellent bird watching site. There is a diversity of habitats present, including salt marshes, beaches, oceans, and forests. 

There are trails and paths that bird watchers can take while looking for birds. In summer, there are many species you can see in the reserve, including Bald Eagles and Osprey. 

Other birds to keep an eye out for include:

  • Alder Flycatchers,
  • Black-throated Green Warblers,
  • Veerys,
  • Bobolinks,
  • and Nelson’s Sparrows.

Shorebirds found here include:

  • Willets,
  • Piping Plovers,
  • Short-billed Dowitchers,
  • Least Sandpipers,
  • Greater Yellowlegs,
  • and Lesser Yellowlegs.

You can print off a checklist of the species for use on your trip to the reserve.

TIP: Check out my recommended products if you are looking for the best and trusted equipment for birdwatching in the wild or on your backyard (Amazon link):

10. Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge

This refuge is in the eastern part of the state on the coast, and it is comprised of 30,000 acres. The many different habitats here make this excellent for birds. There are ponds, lakes, streams, bogs, hardwood forests, rocky shorelines, and marshes, which attract a variety of species.

There is a wildlife observation platform that you can use to view a Bald Eagle nest. This platform is located off Charlotte Road. Several other bird species nest on the reserve, including:

  • the American Black Duck,
  • Spruce Grouse,
  • Ruffed Grouse,
  • and Ring-necked Duck.

Some warblers that breed in the refuge include:

  • the Blackburnian Warblers,
  • Black-throated Green Warblers,
  • Bay-breasted Warblers,
  • and Magnolia Warblers.

Best Time to Bird Watch in Maine

Maine is a state where you can look for birds at any time of the year. However, the state is far north so winter can be very cold. There are also certain seasons that are best for finding particular types of birds.

Loons and ducksWinter
Shorebirds Summer
Best Time to Bird Watch in Maine

The Maine State Bird

Black-capped Chickadee - The state bird of Maine
Black-capped Chickadee – The state bird of Maine

The state bird of Maine is the Black-capped Chickadee, Parus atricapillus. This small bird is in the tit family, Paridae.

They are quite easy to recognize and active little birds that are common in the eastern United States. They occur mainly in woodlands and forest edges but will occur in gardens with trees and bushes.

The bird has a black cap on its head and a black bib on its chest. The wings, tail, and back are gray and the underparts are white. They are not shy birds and are usually quite visible when in an area. They will also come to feeders.

Bird Watching Laws in Maine

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 is a federal law that stops people from harming native bird species. For scientists, there are specific permits that are needed for catching birds for study. This is also needed by bird banders.

My Favourite Equipment for Bird Watching

Bird watching is one of the least expensive hobbies out there, but you still need some equipment to get the most out of it. 

The essential equipment to start bird watching is a pair of binoculars. My preference is 8 X 42 binoculars. The number 8 is how much the magnification is, while 42 is the field of view in millimeters of the lenses.

A pair of waterproof and fog-proof 8 x 42 binoculars like the Celestron – Outland X 8×42 Binoculars on Amazon is an excellent choice for both beginners and experts. 

In time, you can choose more expensive models and also opt to buy a spotting scope like the Celestron Ultima 80 on Amazon.

These are a lot more expensive compared with binoculars though, so if you are only a beginner, start with binoculars first. A spotting scope is only helpful for birds far away, such as out on a pond or seashore.

There are a few rules or guidelines you should abide by as an ethical birder. These are listed below.

  • Do not enter private lands without prior permission from landowners.
  • Follow all the rules in refuges and reserves, including cleaning up any garbage from your campsite.
  • Do not disturb birds on nests.
  • Do not use apps and play songs to call up birds when they are hungry, tired, and breeding during spring and summer.


Maine has many benefits for bird watchers, including having a shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean and an island where you can see many birds.

There is also a range of habitats including ponds, streams, forests, and cliffs, where you can easily find a variety of different bird species. Maine is a good place to visit for a bird watcher because it has a lot to offer.

TIP: If you want to check out the best pair of binoculars for bird watching, we recommend a pair of waterproof and fog-proof 8 x 42 binoculars like the Celestron – Outland X 8×42 Binoculars (Amazon link).

Rae Osborn

Rae Osborn is an avid bird watcher and holds a doctorate in Biology. Her interests in birds began as a child growing up in South Africa. She has continued to study birds and has bird watched in the United States and South Africa.

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