For birds and birders alike, Maine provides an abundance of excellent habitat. As the largest and most sparsely populated state in New England, Maine represents a significant portion of the breeding range for many eastern woodland bird species. The state’s abundant precipitation – more than 40 inches a year – and glaciated landscape have created thousands of lakes, ponds, wetlands, and rivers that are ideal habitat for a variety of water birds.
Birding Code of Ethics
To avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger, exercise restraint during observation, photography, and sound recording. Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas for attracting any species that is listed as Threatened, Endangered, or of Special Concern. Keep well back from nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display areas, and important feeding sites. If there is a need for extended presence in such an area, try to use a blind or hide, and take advantage of natural cover. Use artificial light sparingly for filming or photography, especially for close-ups. Before advertising the presence of a rare bird, evaluate the potential for disturbance to the bird, its surroundings, and other people in the area. Proceed only if access is controlled, disturbance can be minimized, and permission has been obtained from landowners. The sites of rare nesting birds should be divulged only to the proper conservation authorities. Stay on roads, trails, and paths where they exist; otherwise, keep habitat disturbance to a minimum. Respect the law and the rights of others. Do not enter private property without the owner’s explicit permission. Follow all laws, rules, and regulations governing use of the roads and public areas. Practice common courtesy in contacts with other people. Your exemplary behavior will generate good will with birders and non-birders alike.
Travel Tips in the Maine Woods
One of Maine’s most attractive features to birds and travelers alike is its forest. In fact, woods cover more than 90 percent of the state. With this in mind, birders can take some basic travel recautions to help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
The forest that provides the great breeding habitat for so many birds also supplies them with an abundant food source: insects, particularly black flies, mosquitoes and deer flies. Although the period when these pests are most bothersome is relatively short—usually from the second half of May through June—it is also the height of the breeding season when birds are their most conspicuous. Carrying repellant and wearing field clothes that allow you to cover up will make birding in the woods much more comfortable. Respecting the welfare of birds and their environments should always be a priority consideration of every birder.
Maine has a very healthy moose population, making the chances of seeing these magnificent animals fairly good, especially in the northern and eastern parts of the state. While this is great for wildlife-watching, it also presents potentially hazardous situations for motorists. Moose often come out onto roadways to seek respite from the biting insects, to take advantage of the easy travel corridors, or to lick road salt. At night, their dark coat and lack of reflective eyeshine render them almost invisible to the driver in a rapidly moving vehicle. The seriousness of a moose collision cannot be overstated. Be alert!
Northern and Western Maine is crisscrossed by thousands of miles of private logging roads that permit public access to many remote and beautiful places that can be great for birding. When traveling these gravel roads, it is vital to remember they were built for hauling logs. Normal rules of the road do not apply here. Logging trucks have the right of way at all times, and they are often heavily loaded and moving very fast. Move well to the side to allow them to pass and pull off the road completely when stopping. Motorcycles and bicycles are not permitted beyond the staffed checkpoint gates, even if they are just strapped to the outside of a vehicle. Services in Maine’s working forest are few and far between if available at all. Do not expect phone service. Signage along this road network has improved but is irregular and sometimes confusing. Maps and atlases are available at most checkpoints. The Delorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer is a worthwhile investment.