Led by Bird Ecology Program Director Seth Benz, Schoodic Institute bird tours provide participants with the opportunity to contribute to long-term research projects on Acadia’s birds.
Maine has a way of spoiling people. Our spring season is noisy with the breeding songbirds of the northern forest. Their return is eagerly anticipated and monitored closely at Frazer Point Songbird Watch each May.
Summer is high season for puffins. They nest in Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge, just a short boat ride from Winter Harbor. Puffins of Petit Manan is a short tour while Acadia Birds by Land & Sea, offered in partnership with the Maine Birding Trail, adds exploration of additional habitats at the edge of the Gulf of Maine.
In late summer, these same birds begin to form foraging flocks prior to migration, chattering to each other and revealing their locations. The beaches flood with migrating shorebirds, and the offshore waters fill with pelagic species. Many of these birds, such as Great and Sooty Shearwaters and Wilson’s Storm-petrels, nest on islands in the South Atlantic then leave before the Southern Hemisphere winter to summer in Maine. Meanwhile, some subarctic breeders begin winging their way to their wintering areas in August and September. Pomarine and Parasitic Jaegers harass the gulls and shearwaters. Great and South Polar Skuas join them on rare occasions. Red and Red-necked Phalaropes congregate in mixed swarms near where whales feed. Experience this great natural wonder during Winged Migration fall tours, offered in partnership with the Maine Birding Trail.
September is the best time for a great variety of species, including hawks, falcons, waterbirds, shorebirds, and songbirds, all on the move during fall migration. The Fall Migration Workshop explores hawk identification and migration timing in detail in parallel with the annual Cadillac Mountain Hawk Watch.
In October, the waters of Schoodic Point are filled with migrating waterbirds: loons, sea ducks, and cormorants. A variety of other species may be seen during Sea Watch Workshop, including falcons, jaegers, gulls, shorebirds, and songbirds. 2020 marks the fifth season of daily monitoring of this phenomenal autumn flight, and workshop participants will contribute to this scientific effort by helping spot birds and documenting the flight.
Each new year begins with the regional, all-volunteer Christmas Bird Count, always January 1 at Schoodic Point.