Both the Down East Spring Birding Festival and the Acadia Birding Festival are open for registrations. Maine’s location on the East Coast Flyway means it’s a stopover for feathered snowbirds winging their way northward after wintering in warmer climes, so it’s a great place and time to add a few species to your life list as well as enjoy the company of other birders.
Down East Birding Festival: May 28-31, Cobscook Bay Area
The American Bird Conservancy has identified Northeast coastal Maine and the waters around Machias Seal Island as “One of the important bird areas in the U.S.,” and Washington County has won the America’s Birdiest Atlantic Coastal County title annually since 2007. The three-day festival is jampacked with activities: walks, talks, demonstrations, presentations, social events, art programs, and more. A $60 fee covers almost everything, although you still have to register for individual events. Info on lodging and other local resources is on the site.
Acadia Birding Festival: June 10-13, Mount Desert Island
Roger Tory Peterson called Mt. Desert Island the “warbler capital of the world,” and the Acadia festival provides opportunities to see and hear these songbirds as well as sight puffins and pelagic birds at sea and observe peregrin falcons at an active breeding site in Acadia National Park. The program includes lectures, walks, and adventures, all led by notable birders and others and designed to introduce participants to Downeast Maine’s many bird species, diverse habitats , and local birding experts. Keynote speaker Paul Kerlinger will address “Migratory Birds, Wind Turbines, and Communication Towers,” on Thursday evening. Most events require registration ($60/one day, $125/two days, $175/three days + individual fees for special activities), but a few are open to the public.
I’ve had the good fortune to go birding with Michael Good, depicted right, who runs this festival, and he’s a fabulous guide. He operates Down East Nature Tours, and if you can’t make it to the island for this festival, book an adventure with him when you can, even if birding sounds like the least fun activity in the world. Trust me, he makes it fun.