Birding Eastern Maine

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Bangor and its surrounding communities are rich with birding HOT SPOTS.
Click on any hot spot for more information and directions.

Now AVAILABLE: Download a printable 8-page booklet in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format,
complete with more maps and more information. To download the booklet: CLICK HERE

1 City Forest and Orono Bog! Bangor City Forest and the Orono Bog Walk are included in a 650-acre forest tract owned by the city of Bangor. It features about 9 miles of hiking and biking trails and about 4 miles of access roads. It offers a close-in tract of mature woods with a variety of warblers, thrushes and other woodland birds. The Orono Bog Boardwalk was new in 2003. This spectacular 4200-foot long boardwalk meanders through a variety of peat and bog habitats, offering views of specialty breeders such as Lincoln’s sparrow and palm warblers, as well as a host of other warblers and passerines.

Directions: From I-95 traveling North from Bangor, take Exit 49 (Hogan Road– Bangor Mall). Turn west toward the Mall. Pass through two sets of traffic lights. At the intersection with Stillwater Avenue, turn right (North) on Stillwater and travel about 1.3 miles to Tripp Drive. (You will see small signs for the Bangor City Forest and the Bog Boardwalk.) Drive into the Bangor City Forest parking lot at the end of the road, park, and follow the East Trail about 1/4 mile to the Boardwalk. From I-95 traveling South from Orono, take Exit 50 (Kelly Road) and turn West (away from Orono) to Stillwater Avenue. Turn left on Stillwater and travel about 1.2 miles from Kelly Road to Tripp Drive. (You will see small signs for the Bangor City Forest and the Bog Boardwalk.) Drive into the Bangor City Forest parking lot at the end of the road, park, and follow the East Trail about 1/4 mile to the Boardwalk. (back to top)

2 Penjajawoc Marsh: Penjajawoc Marsh: Though this is the crown jewel of birding in the Bangor area, regrettably, PVC can not recommend a visit at this time. This incredible marsh is home to many rare species, including 17 on endangered, threatened, or special concern lists. It has been described by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife as the best emergent marshland in the State. Unfortunately, it is under attack by developers who desire to build immediately adjacent to the marsh and public access to the Marsh has been sealed off while lingering issues are resolved. For more on this volatile issue: click here. (back to top)

3 Fields Pond Audubon Center: Maine Audubon’s Fields Pond site (shown at right) is on
the Fields Pond Road where it crosses the Holden-Orrington town line to the east side of Brewer. The property is open to visitors dawn to dusk, seven days a week. Please park in the gravel parking area at the Rolde Nature Center building. (The turnoff space on Fields Pond Road is reserved Monday-Friday as a school bus turnaround.) The upper, grassy parking area on the east end of the property is mowed and can be used until snow-covered.

Directions from the North or South via I-95: Take exit 45 to I-395, direction of Brewer. Proceed about 3 miles (crossing over the Penobscot River) then take the Parkway South exit from I-395. Turn left from the exit, continue on Parkway South to a four-way junction. Turn left on Elm Street, which becomes Wiswell Road in about a mile. Continue on Wiswell Road to Fields Pond Road. The Nature Center is well marked on Fields Pond Road. Directions from the East and the Coast: from Route 1A take a left onto either Copeland Hill Road (in Holden) or Green Point Road (near MacDonald’s in Brewer). Turn onto Wiswell Road, follow to Fields Pond Road. Nature Center is well marked on Fields Pond Road.

Over a hundred bird species have been documented on the site in the first six years of the Fields Pond Audubon Center existence. Its 192 acres include fields, wetlands, forest, 1600 feet of lakeshore frontage, and a 22-acre island in Fields Pond. The site is ringed by bluebird boxes and the bluebirds have responded by nesting successfully. The grasslands support bobolinks and savannah sparrows while the forests encourage a wide variety of warblers, thrushes and woodpeckers. The nearby Sedgeunkedunk Stream Marsh is one of the best places in the area for early spring waterfowl, many of which remain to nest. Continue along Fields Pond Road to reach the marsh. It is also possible to paddle from the center itself. Canoes are available for rent at the center.

The Fields Pond Audubon Center is surrounded by butterfly gardens and there is a vernal pool a stone’s throw from the entrance. The store is stocked with nature books and bird guides, as well as optics and other tools for budding naturalists. The center runs a popular program for school children. There are frequent nature walks an more extensive field trips offered regularly by the Penobscot Valley Chapter. Check in often to find out what is happening, or join Maine Audubon to receive the free newsletter. (back to top)

4 Penobscot River: The entire length of the river can hold many surprises. During the warmer months, double-crested cormorants preside. Wherever gulls congregate, especially in winter, there is a good chance of finding Iceland gulls and even the occasional glaucous gull. Bald eagles can be found anywhere along its length at any time of year. The best place to search for unusual winter gulls is from the parking lots adjacent to the Sea Dog Restaurant on the riverfront in downtown Bangor. The Brewer side of the river offers good vantage points from the Muddy Rudder Restaurant, as well as from sites near the Veterans Remembrance Bridge on South Main Street.
Just north of Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor’s largest hospital on State Street, Barrow’s goldeneyes are seen regularly. Common goldeneyes are ubiquitous during the winter wherever the river is ice free from Bangor to Old Town, as are common mergansers. On the Brewer side, Route 9 skirts the river much of the way to Eddington Bend. (back to top)

5 Eddington Bend: At this point on the Penobscot, Route 9 turns abruptly east on its way to Canada, but Route 178 continues upriver to Milford and Old Town. Definitely pull into the parking lot at the Eddington Salmon Club at Eddington Bend. This stretch remains open even in the coldest of winters. Common goldeneyes, common mergansers, and even occasional Horned Grebes and Buffleheads are very likely here. So are Bald Eagles. In fact, the stretch of river between the aptly named Eagle’s Nest Restaurant on Route 9 and Eddington Bend is great for eagles any time of year. Black ducks and mallards winter over along all ice free sections of the river from Eddington Bend to Milford and can be readily seen from shore, especially near the dams in Old Town. Here is another good place for eagles in winter.(back to top)

6 Leonard’s Mills: Leonard’s Mills (left) is halfway between Eddington Bend and Milford along Route 178. Look for the sign that indicates the entrance to the Penobscot Experimental Forest and Leonard’s Mills. The Leonard’s Mills Museum is a restored logging mill and pioneer settlement. You may wish to park in the small spaces next to the road intersection with Route 178 and walk the mile to Leonard’s Mills. It is a warbler-rich environment in May and June with a variety of habitats over a conveniently short trek. The road begins with secondary growth – perfect for chestnut-sided warblers. Within a few hundred yards, the woods encompass a wet area that is sometimes home to northern waterthrush. Minutes later, near the equipment garages, the secondary growth thins sufficiently to support a variety of warbler species. Then the forestation abruptly changes into test plantings of special spruce and other softwoods. When you reach the open power lines, note the active osprey nests on the towers. More mature forests lay just beyond the power lines, with substantial white pines – home to pine warblers and eastern wood pewees. Take the fork to the right to the Leonard’s Mills parking lot and listen for black-throated blue warblers. You may also wish to drive further along the road toward Chemo Pond that exits south out of the parking lot. Traffic is usually sparse and there are many opportunities to search for wood warblers and thrushes. (back to top)

7 Floods Pond Road: is an ideal road for birding while biking, rollerblading, walking the dog, or even pushing a baby stroller. It’s the access road to Bangor’s water supply. As such, it is paved and plowed year round. Furthermore, it is gated and only a few pond residents are allowed vehicle entry. It is common for owners of well-behaved dogs to walk them without a leash on this road though there is sporadic traffic. The road passes through an interesting variety of habitats. The woods contain an assortment of common warblers – including nesting Canada warblers – vireos, woodpeckers, thrushes, and kinglets. A small marsh located a mile down the road often contains ducks and sometimes northern waterthrush. Two miles down the road there is a pond on the right that almost always has a few ducks. The road offers one of the better chances for crossbills in the winter and occasionally even in summer. Three miles from the entrance there is another gate which marks the beginning of the waterworks area and access is not allowed beyond this gate. Still, all local residents know about this road and you’ll almost certainly meet others out strolling no matter what the season.
Directions: Floods Pond Road is on Route 9 in Eddington just a couple hundred yards after the intersection with Route 46. Look for the gated access road on the right as you are heading east. (back to top)

8 Chick Hill: Just a few more miles east on Route 9, the summit of Chick Hill (also known as Peaked Mountain) can be reached by car or foot. The mountain offers spectacular 360 degree views from its bald top, though a cellular phone tower mars the serenity just a little. Nonetheless, this tower is the reason the summit can now be reached by car, though the road can be very rough in spots. Decades ago a fire tower graced the same spot. It’s a favorite place in foliage season. It’s a good place for hawk-watching, though there are others that are better. For those who choose the half-hour walk up, all the usual forest birds are present. From the top, Evening Grosbeaks and perhaps Crossbills are obvious and noisy even at a distance. Though uncommon, don’t be startled to find an American Pipit in the fall. (back to top)

9 Frankfort Marsh: Nelson’s sharp-tailed sparrows abound in Frankfort Marsh. It’s also a great place for northern harriers. Be on the lookout for ducks while you are there, especially in winter around the boat launch on Route 1A. The entire marsh runs south along Route 1A to the intersection with Route 174 in Prospect. The best spot for sparrows is at the bridge on Route 174 just east of the intersection. Listen for their unusual song and watch for them to flit throughout the meadow. They are late arrivers, however, so don’t expect them much before June. Park carefully at this location because space is limited and traffic can be fast. (back to top)

10 Kenduskeag:Route 15 extends from Outer Broadway in Bangor all the way to Greenville. In the early spring, when some lakes still have ice, and the snow has only recently left the fields and streams, the section between Bangor’s 6 Mile Falls and the village of Kenduskeag can be a haven for ducks and early spring migrants. The marshiest fields that lie between the road and the Kenduskeag River are prone to green-winged teal with an assortment of other ducks mixed in. All farm fields the entire length of the route are havens for bobolinks and eastern meadowlarks during the summer months. (back to top)

11 University of Maine: The University of Maine landscape is dotted with special and unusual plantings, from ornamental gardens to ivy-covered walls. In winter it can be an ideal place to find Bohemian waxwings. In their irruptive years, pine grosbeaks habituate the Littlefield Ornamental Garden and its crab-apple grove. During the summer, cliff swallows build their mud nests on the Maine Center for the Arts and the nearby Donald Corbett Center building. House finches are common at campus feeders. Common nighthawks are regular and probably nest on campus. (back to top)

12 University (Demerritt) Forest is similar to the Bangor City Forest. It is a summer residence for most of our breeding warblers and at least four of the thrushes and five of the woodpeckers. It is mixed deciduous and conifer, with large tracts of mature woods, that encourages diversity. It is an experimental forest with large tracks of thinned, monocultural stands of trees that offer unique birding views. It is frequented by bikers, hikers and cross country skiers, though that seldom detracts from the birding. In the winter, it can be one of the best places for crossbills.
Directions: Take exit 51 off I-95 and proceed along Stillwater Avenue until the light just before McDonalds. A right turn takes you to campus. A left takes you out College Avenue Extension. Take the left, go about 1.1 miles, and look for Seawall Road, a gated gravel road. (back to top)

13 County Road: County Road: The Stud Mill Road is one of the roads that makes Maine “Maine.” This dirt superhighway runs from Costigan to Princeton. The County Road (shown below) provides a shortcut from Old Town/Milford to the Stud Mill Road. Bring a map or Delorme Atlas. From Milford, northbound on Route 2, turn right onto the County Road soon after the intersection with Route 178. For the next 8+ miles, you will traverse a variety of woodland and marsh habitats. The conifer stands are especially likely to contain boreal warblers and yellow-bellied flycatchers. In the winter, finches and crossbills predominate. Crossbills can be found anytime of year here and golden-crowned kinglets are omni-present. The deciduous stands are equally likely to contain woodland warblers. During this journey, you will skirt the Sunkhaze Stream. The cedar swamps offer a completely different kind of habitat worth attention.

At 8.3 miles, you will come to the intersection with the Stud Mill Road. A right turn will take you nearly to Canada, crossing such famous streams as the Union River, The Narraguagus River, and the Machias River en route. You will probably have to stop at likely looking places to see any small birds, but hawks (and moose) may be encountered at any time. All stream crossings are likely to host warblers and thrushes. Vehicles exceed 55mph on this road and logging trucks are regular. Expect dust. Expect clear cuts (which are good for American kestrels and the occasional merlin and sharp-shinned hawk.) In winter, expect snowmobiles by the score. There are paved roads in Maine less traveled than this one.

A left turn onto the Stud Mill Road from the County Road will take you back to Route 2 (by way of the Greenfield Road near the end of the Stud Mill.) It offers the same variety as the rest of the road, with a good set of black spruce and tamarack in a bog marking the north end of the Sunkhaze. Be sure to check the bridge that crosses the Sunkhaze Stream about 2.3 miles from the intersection. The total distance from the Stud Mill/ County Road intersection back to Route 2 is about 3.1 miles. Going south on Route 2 will complete the 12 mile loop. (back to top)

14 Sunkhaze Meadows: Welcome to Bangor’s only nearby National Wildlife Refuge. Getting there is half the fun, perhaps the lesser half. It’s a vast expanse of peat land, marsh, and wetland forest, but it’s largely accessible only by canoe and then only by dragging the boat over numerous beaver dams. The obstacles and the slow flow mean a long paddle, so do it on a day when you have plenty of time. It’s breeding habitat for black ducks, hooded mergansers, blue-winged teal, and ring-necked ducks. Marsh wrens are common and noisy. Thrushes and northern waterthrushes are present. Even Nelson’s sharp-tailed sparrows breed here. American bitterns and great blue herons are abundant. Yellow rail and sedge wren have been found here, too, but don’t get your hopes up.

There are three waterway entrances by canoe. The shortest are at Baker Brook on the County Road and at the Ash Landing Trailhead on Sunkhaze Stream at the Stud Mill Road. They are often obstructed and can be impassible in low water. The longest but easiest way may be at the western end where the Sunkhaze Stream crosses under Route 2 on the way into the Penobscot River. Expect an upstream paddle against current in the spring and a low water paddle in a dry fall. Nonetheless, this route encounters the fewest obstacles. Overall, it’s best to contact the NWR office at 827-6138.

Several clusters of foot trails are available along the edge of the refuge. The Oak Point Trail is about 1.5 miles long. It is wet in the spring though some boardwalks help in the most challenging places. This trail traverses mostly upland forest but does approach the peatbog. The Johnson Brook Trail loops for about three miles through upland forest. A section through a cedar swamp also relies on the assistance of boardwalks in the wettest areas. A parking lot and map kiosk serve this trailhead. Both trails begin on the County Road. The Buzzy Brook Trail System is accessed from the Stud Mill Road close to where the power lines cross. The trail begins within the gated McLaughlin Road. This trail system is not well maintained. Bushwhacking and compass can be handy. (back to top)

15 Hirundo: Hirundo: Nearly a half hour out of downtown Bangor, but often worth the drive, Hirundo is a private Wildlife Refuge on Route 43 between Old Town and Hudson. Altogether, there are about 1500 acres that contain mixed stands of hardwoods and conifers. Deciduous-loving warblers are quite common here, as are eastern pewees and least flycatchers. Two streams and a pond attract waterfowl, American bitterns, great blue herons and swamp sparrows.. Gated roads provide access to the refuge. Register and get maps and directions at the house at Gate 3. It’s just over 5 miles west along Route 43 from I-95.
This particular section of Pushaw Stream is one of the area’s best river paddles. In both directions it flows slowly through river bottomland accented with nest boxes for wood ducks and hooded mergansers. American bitterns are common in the rushes. Warbling vireos and a host of warblers sing through much of May and June. Please let us know if you encounter Black-backed woodpeckers and boreal chickadees. Both have been seen nearby. (back to top)

16 Newman Hill Preserve: Newman Hill Preserve is also known locally as the Taylor Bait Farm. Though the bait farm no longer exists, its shallow ponds have gained a local reputation for attracting waterfowl in the spring and shorebirds in the fall. While part of the preserve is protected by easements with the Orono Land Trust, it is nonetheless private property and must be respected. The first pond is less than a mile along Taylor Road. A second pond may be reached by walking past the gate that marks the end of legal parking and past the house on the right. Beyond it, there is a third pond often worth checking but seldom as productive as the first two. Park only where designated along the first pond and stay only on trails. The best birding is from the road itself so there is no need to trespass. There is one foot trail that winds over Newman Hill. The trailhead is well marked just after the first pond and it reenters the roadbed just after the second pond.
Directions: From the Bangor Mall, go north on Stillwater Avenue to Forest Avenue. Turn left, proceed 1.4 miles, and turn right onto the Taylor Road. (back to top)

Please note: We would be very interested in all sightings of Maine’s boreal specialties within the Bangor area: spruce grouse, black-backed woodpecker, boreal chickadee, gray jay, and Bicknell’s thrush. Click here to e-mail your sighting.