Acadia's birding community invites you and your family to celebrate the ecological wonders of the birds of the Gulf of Maine at the Acadia Birding Festival. Explore Mount Desert Island and its birds through numerous events and venues. Greet our warblers on early morning birding walks, visit with puffins and pelagic birds at sea, and observe Peregrine Falcons at an active breeding site in Acadia National Park. Our combination of lectures, walks, and adventures will connect you to Downeast Maine’s many bird species, diverse habitats and local birding experts.
From the deck of the whale watch catamaran "Friendship V" you can enjoy the sights and sounds of Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills, Roseate and Arctic Terns on Petit Manan Island then visit with whales and pelagic birds 25 to 30 miles offshore. Our bays and marine estuaries will be explored by kayak and canoe, with registered guide Robert Shaw of National Park Sea Kayak Tours. There is no better way to learn about sea birds than to be on the water with them accompanied by avian experts.
Through a variety of birding walks we will attempt to connect participants to all of the primary terrestrial habitats of Mount Desert Island. We will strive to lead participants to Mount Desert Islands birding "hot spots".
There is no other birding event in Maine that offers the variety of birdwatching experiences as the Acadia Birding Festival.
Roger Tory Peterson called Mount Desert Island "the Warbler capital of the world" and past participants will attest to this. Over our twelve year history, first as Warblers and Wildflowers and now reorganized as the Acadia Birding Festival, we have seen and heard over 180 species.
For some birds, Mount Desert Island is a summer destination while others pass through to breeding habitats still farther north. Mourning, Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue, Canada and Magnolia Warblers are some of the Parulidae family highlights. Ruffed Grouse, and Pileated and Black-backed Woodpeckers are residents of our conifer forest. Noteworthy Mount Desert Island bird species include the Atlantic Puffin, Black Guillemot, and the Common Eider. Significant marsh and water birds include American Woodcock, Wilson's Snipe, Pied-billed Grebe, American Bittern, and Sora. Boreal Chickadee, Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, and sometimes Red and White-winged Crossbills are representatives of our area's boreal species and have been encountered on walks over the years. Grassland nesting species, such as the Bobolink and Nelson's Sparrow breed on MDI.
Many of these species can be found in a variety of habitats and we encourage birders to seek them out on their own during free moments or after the Birding Festival. Our diverse habitats include: Northern hardwood, boreal and spruce-fir forests, bogs, heath, fresh- and salt-water marshes, grassy and shrubby fields, streams, lakes and ponds and the highest point on the Atlantic coast, Cadillac Mountain.
Islands have a special magic, and set on Maine's dramatic rock-bound coast, Mount Desert Island is no exception. From the stonewall-lined and tree-covered roads leading to our villages, to the sweeping vistas from atop Cadillac Mountain’s sub-alpine "krumholtz" environment , there is a special mystique to Mount Desert Island. Acadia National Park is our backyard and we enjoy sharing its charms with special guests.
In an effort to make this year's event as Energy Efficient as possible we ask our participants to carpool when possible. We are also keeping most of our events localized during the day to minimize the travel distance between events and maximize the time in the field. Each event is suited to all skill levels, from beginners to advanced naturalists. Events vary in level of physical difficulty (specified in descriptions).
What the Acadia Birding Festival offers is enhanced opportunity to observe birds from our varied habitats, meet and learn from local bird experts, and share a few days of stimulating activities with "birds of a feather." We hope to see you May/June and wish you all great birding!All photos by Becky Marvil
Comments from our 2018 Participants:
"Great festival. Well organized, great group of knowledgeable people to help ID birds and other flora and fauna and info about MDI and Maine in general. Look forward to returning."
"I found the festival amazingly well organized and responsive. Thanks to all who pitched in."
"Overall, I had a ton of fun and would love to do it again."
"My son and his friend had the best time of their lives. They were really happy. The guides gave Ian so much attention and respect, even though he's a little guy. My parents came all the way from Wisconsin and they had a great time too! The online registration and materials emailed to us made this a breeze, and the logistics of the festival were very well done."
"I don't fall within the typical birder demographic but everyone I encounter during/associated with the ABF is fantastic."
"I loved the canoe trip and have to especially thank the leaders for help managing the boarding! I would have gone canoeing every day if possible."
"I will attend again, if not next year. The directions were excellent. There we’re certainly plenty of options for field trips."
"The guides were fabulous! Kind, concerned about our safety and our ability to see the birds, and just plain pleasant to be around."
"The festival was extremely well-organized. All guides I encountered were helpful and knowledgeable. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience."
"I have been coming to MDI for 20 years for a late spring retreat. Over the years, the NPS has cut back on ranger talks and hikes. I was looking for something else to guide my outdoor explorations and I came across a flyer posted in the library. I had just missed the festival that year, but I made a plan to schedule my future trips here around ABF. Great birding and wonderful welcoming community!"
"I want to thank you, Becky, and everybody who worked on the festival, for a great job. You Mainers are incredible - friendly, efficient & caring. I was a little sad that we had to go home. Yours was the first festival that fed the guests, and I really liked that. So much better than "eating along the side of the road." Food was great, too. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!"
"I very much liked the wide range of choices, and a la carte pricing, of the festival program. I was able to select field trips in locations familiar to me as a summer resident of MDI and, as a beginning birder, I benefited greatly from the small size of the field trips and high ratio of leaders to participants."
"The Acadia Birding Festival caters to people of all abilities. We are fairly new to birding but enthusiastic about learning more and this is a perfect learning opportunity. The guides we had were extremely knowledgeable and made certain we all had a great experience. The options to participate are extensive with some appropriate for the less athletic to quite strenuous venues. The planning, management and organization of all the different events is amazingly well done. We hope to return for the 2019 festival."
"We loved the festival, meeting like-minded people and exploring the surroundings. Enjoyed lobster dinner with new friends from Portland, OR. The pelagic seabird boat tour was a highlight - the puffins did not disappoint. We got a good look at a magnolia warbler. I also enjoyed seeing the seals and a quick glimpse of a whale. Wonderful all the way around."
"The Pelagic Seabird trip was the highlight and would have been even without the Brown Booby."
"The ocean cruise certainly was the highlight of the weekend. The variety of field trips exceeded my expectations. I've spent quite a bit of time on MDI in the past (2 decades ago) when I lived in Bangor, but I learned about new areas on the island."
"I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Maine. Have only been there once before (an overnight to Monhegan last year) it was lovely to see more of your beautiful state."
"We enjoyed our guides and also our fellow participants. Everyone was friendly and considerate. And we marvel (no pun intended) at how well run it all was, especially considering how much personal attention we saw being freely given to each participant in need of it."
"The whole event was very enjoyable. Thank you for all the hard work you put in to organize it. It was very smoothly run. I enjoyed the evening speakers very much."
"This is a wonderful festival! I learn so many new skills each year I have attended. The new trips added are a great compliment. The guides are the best of the best. To just sit and talk to Pete Dunne about his favorite memories and most helpful interactions was fabulous! I find even more joy in birding, and confidence after each festival! Thank you! Great job!!"
"We only attended the last day of the ABF, because we couldn't leave home sooner. We had a great time and, if possible (work rules and limitations: ugh), will be coming back in 2019. "
"Thanks for your work organizing this. Also, the conference booklet with hotspots and info was VERY helpful. It helped me choose which hikes to take and also spots to check out on my own in between activiites. I was able to get a view of the falcons and see many other species that were on my list and enjoy some scenic hikes. "