Sunset Puffin Cruise 2019

By Marion Sprague

Who doesn’t love puffins? On Saturday, July 13th nine of our young birders and their families embarked on the Maine Audubon Puffin Cruise into Muscongus Bay to Eastern Egg Rock.  It was a gorgeous evening to be on the water for this special trip. The Audubon Sunset Puffin Cruise goes out an hour and a half later than the traditional Hardy Boat Cruise, so we get to see the puffins as they are returning to the island for the night. It is rare to see rafts as large as 15 floating so close to the boat. On multiple occasions we had puffins fly directly overhead.

The island is home to the world's first restored seabird colony. The restoration of Eastern Egg Rock has been replicated worldwide to help endangered and threated seabirds.  On the ride out to the island, Captain Al gave a brief overview of the history of puffins and what makes this tiny, 7-acre island so important for in their continued breeding success.  Last year there were over 175 breeding pairs of Atlantic Puffins on the island. Eastern Egg Rock is known as the most easily-accessible Maine island for observing nesting Atlantic Puffins.  From mid-May to mid-August, 4-5 people live on the island to monitor the nesting colonies of the birds.

As we approached the island we were greeted by the powerful laughter of the Laughing Gulls. The group was treated to many spectacular sightings including Black Guillemots (the MYBC mascot!) showing off their red feet and Common Terns carrying small fish back to the island to feed young.  We saw a single Roseate Tern sitting on a rock. The most unusual bird was a lone BRANT that has been hanging around the island for a few weeks.

Check out the eBird checklists here:

While birds were our focus, we also took some time to appreciate sightings of Harbor Porpoises and Harbor Seals basking on the rocks! One Harbor Seal delighted us with what appeared to be a wave as we passed.  On the return trip Captain Al took the group by Franklin Light to view the 3rd oldest lighthouse in Maine.

MYBC wants to give a huge thank you to Maine Audubon for sponsoring this trip for the young birders and club coordinators.  Also thanks to Louis Bevier for sharing his expertise with the young birders and parents!  We appreciated his excellent leadership on this trip.

Kennebunk Plains Pt. II

By Seth Davis

Six young birders, including two new members joined us for our second trip to the Kennebunk Plains! Very reminiscent of last year, there was a strong threat of thunderstorms but luckily we didn’t get rained out. Nick Lund aka “The Birdist” joined us for part of our trip and it was awesome to have some more experience and fun knowledge to accompany us!

The day started off and remained awesome for the duration of our trip! Right off the bat, we picked up some less common sparrows including Vespers and Savannah Sparrows. Early on we also heard Eastern Meadowlarks, Cedar Waxwings, and Eastern Towhees all over the grasslands. We also picked up and got some great views of our target birds UPLAND SANDPIPER and GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS! These state-endangered birds can really only be found in this area, so it s always a welcome treat when we get some great views.

When we got toward the back part of the area, we decided to try to get out of the rain and try to find some forrest-dwelling birds. Among the few warblers, and thrushes we cam across, we also stumbled upon a hen Wild Turkey who was sitting on her clutch of newborn turklets? turklings? gobble-pops? Regardless of what they’re called they were super cute. We made sure that on our way back we tried not to disturb the birds to make as little impact as possible.

Among other birds, we saw a Cooper’s Hawk, Prairie Wablers, and… ticks… As Marion said, “even the ticks had ticks”… Luckily they all seemed like American Dog Ticks, but still gross…

All in all it was a very successful and fun day! It was great to interact with some new members and we hope to continue to meet new people and learn more about Maine’s birds and natural environment!

Our full checklists for the trip can be seen here:

and here:

L.L. Bean Birding Festival Walk at Pettengill Farm

By Marion Sprague

On Saturday May 25th MYBC joined the L.L. Bean Birding Festival walk at Pettengill Farm in Freeport. The event was open to the public, so there were many familiar and many new faces to greet us. Doug Hitchcox, staff naturalist from Maine Audubon, welcomed the group and gave some quick safety and overview information. The group split into two smaller groups. One stayed with Doug and the other followed Laura Erikson for a walk around the property.

The MYBC had the pleasure of  joining Laura Erikson, scientist, teacher, writer, wildlife rehabilitator, professional blogger, public speaker, photographer, former science editor at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and contributing editor of BirdWatching magazine. She is the author of fourteen books on birds and a producer for the long-running “For the Birds” radio program and podcast.

Those that went with Laura observed many species including more Indigo Buntings (surprise!), a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a female Scarlet Tanager, and three Snowy Egrets down by the water, among other species. It was a great experience to get to meet some of the other young birders in the area!

The rest of the group stayed behind with Doug to learn about some of the bird mounts from Maine Audubon and delight in a very cooperative male Indigo Bunting singing his “Fire, Fire. Where, Where?  Here, Here.  See it, See it?” song from the nearby crabapple trees.

After the walk with Laura wrapped up the MYBC group continued our morning with a walk down the road to the parking area. We heard Ovenbirds singing “Teacher! Teacher! Teacher!” and Black-throated Green Warblers merrily singing “Zee zee zee zoo zee”. We had a male Hairy Woodpecker foraging for insects in a dead tree along the road. He put on a good show jumping from tree to tree.

We wrapped up the walk with a sighting of a lone Blackburnian Warbler high in the newly budding trees next to the gate entrance.

There were lots of activities to participate in throughout the rest of the day and weekend. MYBC was invited to have a booth at the L. L. Bean flagship store. We had lots of visitors come by to take information and ask about out club.

Thank you to Maine Audubon and L.L. Bean for inviting us to participate! Check out the trip list here:

Our June trip is going to be announced shortly so stay tuned.

Maine Spring Live

by Seth Davis

On Saturday the 27th, MYBC was lucky to be offered to represent our club at the Maine Spring LIVE event at Gilsland Farm in Falmouth. Marion spent a lot of time and effort to set up our booth which turned out really great! We had a lot of interested people stop by to see what the club has to offer and we were happy to be given this opportunity to promote MYBC. The young birders had a lot of opportunities to go on bird walks, see live animal shows, and interact with other nature-focused organizations around Maine.

As much as we would love to talk about club promotion, the more important question is, how were the birds!?! Right off the bat we were given the pleasure of seeing a Pileated Woodpecker working a tree not too far from our booth! It was a very patient bird that let a lot of us get within great photo distance (see below). Right then we knew it was going to be a good day. Admittedly, it was difficult to keep track of birds because the club was pretty split up throughout the day, with members going on bird walks or to the shows, however our booth was right next to a set of feeders which provided some excellent opportunities to see who was coming in! From our nice comfy chair we had a lot of the regular visitors, Black-capped Chickadee, Chipping Sparrows, Downy/Hairy Woodpeckers etc. We also got some great views of a Pine Warbler and Brown-headed Cowbird that would stop by pretty regularly. Out on the walks we saw a lot of great birds like an American Kestrel, extremely close views of Wild Turkey and multiple Song Sparrows. The cherry on the ice cream was definitely a great view of a LITTLE EGRET!!! This is an exceptionally rare bird for the U.S. but Maine has been lucky enough to host it (quite possibly a pair) for the past 4-5 years with it always returning to Gilsland Farm! This eurasian visitor was ID’ed for the first time this year on Saturday and it was awesome that we got to see it!

After the walks and as the event began to die out, Seth and River got the opportunity to go down to the “vaults” of Maine Audubon to look at specimens and try to learn a little more about how Maine Audubon operates. It was a fun experience! All-in-all this event was really fun and we look forward to being a part of it next year!

Sketching, Pizza and Woodcock Walk

by Marion Sprague

On Saturday, March 30, six young birders joined MYBC in the search for returning American Woodcocks. We headed to the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust at dusk.   As we were getting our gear out of the cars an American Woodcock buzzed over us just above our heads. We could the distinctive nasal “peent” coming from multiple woodcocks nearby. We were very fortunate to have Bud Danis, who heads the KCT Trail Steward Program, join us for the walk and guide us to a prime viewing spot.

Within minutes, we heard one take off nearby.  The field at Kennebunkport Conservation Trust is situated ideally facing the western sky. This is great for watching woodcocks in flights as the light of the setting sun gives perfect backlighting to watch their elaborate sky dance.  We were able to watch the first few flights in their entirety from takeoff through ascent to landing. We strained our eyes to keep up with the long circular ascent of the woodcock and listened for the twittering high above our heads as the woodcock reached its apex and descended.  While he danced high above, we took this chance to approach his display turf by quickly jogging our way closer.  Standing still just behind a cluster of apple trees, we held our breaths in the hope that he would land back on his favorite patch of field again.

The woodcock did not disappoint.  He descended, loudly chirping, and landed about 20 feet in front of us!  We spotlighted him, and everyone got great looks through the scope and binoculars at the plump, peenting bird.  A few even managed to get photos of the well camouflaged bird.  We were very fortunate that he landed close enough that we could hear the little hiccup woodcocks make just after he peented.  

Prior to our woodcock outing, we enjoyed a pizza dinner and a wonderful sketching workshop taught by Michael Boardman of Coyote Graphics.  Michael started the workshop with a quick demonstration of how to capture gesture and field marks when sketching a bird quickly in the wild. Luckily, our models were staying put. Michael brought in three bird mounts for us to practice sketching—a Bufflehead, a Black-bellied Plover and of course our target bird the American Woodcock. Michael also gave a brief demo on watercolor and how to mix three basic colors to get almost any color you need to paint wildlife.  We had a lot of fun and discovered many of the group had artistic abilities!

Perhaps the highlight of the evening came at the very end as we were walking to meet everyone’s parents. Ian thought he heard the twittering of a woodcock in flight and called for everyone to stop. Sure enough, a lone American Woodcock had landed 10 feet in front of us at the base of a large tree on the UNE Campus.  Nice spotting, Ian!

We will post details about the April outing shortly. Stay tuned. Until then, happy birding!


by Seth Davis

“We saw every owl…” is what we wanted to say after our long early-morning outing. Unfortunately, it turns out that these elusive raptors are in fact, very elusive. We were a trio for this trip (not unexpected for our early morning adventures) and we traveled all over Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough to some known owling hotspots. Our hope was that we would at the very least hear some owls as February is the beginning of their breeding season, but no such luck. Some in the party were pretty convinced they heard a Great Horned Owl near Ram Island, however it was considered a “Dirty Bird” (a term meaning that only some of a birding party saw/ID’d a bird and not everyone) thus we didn’t count it.

All was not lost however! We did see some great birds as it started to get light out. Most notably we saw 3 Red-tailed Hawks and 1 Rough-legged Hawk near the Spurwink River Crossing. There were also hundreds of Mallards, American Black Ducks, and Canada Geese among others.

The lack of sleep did not alter our determination, we will continue to seek out these amazing birds! Our next trip will be in late March so keep your eyes open for the announcement!


By Marion Sprague

On January 26, the MYBC set out with 5 young birders for our seabirding outing. We started the morning at East Point Sanctuary in Biddeford. We walked along the trail next to the golf course keeping our eyes out for geese, hawks and birds in the thickets. We saw a few cooperative Black-Capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice and Norther Cardinals. We continued our walk out to the point hoping to see a Snowy Owl, but had no such luck.  We did, however, see the MYBC mascot a Black Guillemot decked out in its winter plumage.

We then treaded very carefully across the snow covered trails to the pines. It started out very quiet, but a mob of American Crows soon drew our attention. Seth ventured in to see if he could spot what they were mobbing. Something large and light colored flew out of one of the trees, but we didn’t get a clear enough look to identify it.  View the full checklist here:

After that excitement we headed to Cape Elizabeth and visited some of its well-known birding spots. We stopped briefly along Rt. 77 to view a Red-tailed Hawk sitting conspicuously on the telephone wires overlooking the marsh.

Driving into the parking lot at Kettle Cove, a Sharp-Shinned Hawk flew up and over the hood of our cars in pursuit of a flock of Rock Pigeons feeding at a neighborhood feeder. There was already a large groups of birders at Kettle Cove that turned out to be the Merry Meeting Audubon group who was incidentally on an outing as well. We picked up our first sparrows of the day, a very agitated Song Sparrow scolded us from the thickets near the bridge and an American Tree Sparrow was foraging along the edges of the parking lot. Check out our full Kettle Cove checklist here:

Our next stop was Dyer Point. We picked up Harlequin Ducks, Razorbills, Red-Necked Grebe and Purple Sandpipers. The highlight came just as we were going to head over to Two Lights to see if we could find the King-Eider, spotted earlier by the Merry Meeting Audubon birders. We met a woman from Avian Haven who had just released a Thick-Billed Murre. Of course, we ran back out to the point to see it. We got some great looks of it stretching it wings and diving among the surf. See our full checklist here:

After the official outing had wrapped up a small group of us lingered behind and went over to Two Lights State Park to see if we could spot the King Eider, sadly the King was nowhere to be found. We instead enjoyed a few more Harlequin Ducks and Red-Necked Grebes before calling it a day.

We also want to give a huge thank you to the anonymous donor who provided a Swarovski scope and tripod to MYBC. We will put it to great use!! You can see Garrett below using it to scan for snowies at East Point Sanctuary.

Keep your eyes peeled for the February trip posting coming shortly!


MYBC set out on Dec. 29th to partake in our own Christmas Bird Count section for the Biddeford/Kennebunk CBC! Though it was a slow birding day in general we had a great time and several young birders made the long-haul staying out birding from 3 am all the way to the final compilation which took place at 5 pm. Special guest Nathan Hall lead the team and took us by several awesome locations in the Biddeford/Saco area.

Owling was largely unsuccessful unfortunately. Probably the most exciting thing was having a run-in with local police who thought we were up to no good… Once we explained the history of the CBC and how MYBC was out looking for owls in the early hours of the day, they understood and let us go on our way. Do note it is important to follow all local rules and regulations including “when” you can go to certain locales.

Once it became light out, we stopped off by Rt. 9 in Saco and we were greeted with a quick rain shower and scenic rainbow view along with some cool birds (Northern Pintail, Yellow-rumped Warbler, among others).

We made our way down to the beach nearby to pick up some sea birds. We were pretty successful with highlights including several Razorbills, a couple Northern Gannets. Moving down the road we hit Old Orchard Beach and found a huge flock of 150-200 gulls. Trying to see if we could spot an unusual gull (white-winged) among them we crept closer, but sadly we didn’t have any luck.

Later in the day, we decided to go back and hit up some of the spots where we went owling to see if daylight would result in more birds. One of the neatest locations we went to was Saco Heath. While wonderful habitat, birding was incredibly slow (we weren’t the only ones with a slow day). The young birders made the lack of birds fun however, by engaging in a winnerless competition to see who could name the most birds :)

Finally we stopped at a small apple orchard in Saco and picked up a few necessary birds (Hairy and Downy Woodpecker etc.) and got some really close views of some vocal Common Ravens going through the neighborhood. We attempted a last-ditch effort to see the Barrows Golden eye at the mill, but apparently it was hanging out up river.

Several young birders attended the compilation and were active participants in the count process. This gave a great opportunity to see the process as well as appreciate the significance of this country’s longest running citizen science project. In total (now that the official results are in) there were 81 different species seen on the count day across 8 teams. Everyone logged close to 300 miles of travel both by car and foot! So though it may have not been the “birdiest” day, MYBC had a lot of fun and can’t wait to participate next year!

Fort Foster

by Marion Sprague

On Saturday November 17th, seven Maine Young Birders joined us at Fort Foster where our goal was to see some lingering passerines and our returning winter visitors. Before we even officially started our walk we were greeted by a Red-tailed Hawk that alighted in a tree just over the parking area.

We started our day along the road leading to the observation tower. As we walked through the marsh we saw a fantastic variety of sparrows including multiple Fox and Swamp Sparrows. These were not to be outdone by the White-throated, Savannah and Song Sparrows. Perhaps our best view was of one immature White-crowned Sparrow that seemed undeterred by our presence as it foraged along the path.

We continued our walk along the shore trials along Rocky and Windersurfer’s Beaches. Highlights included 1 Winter Wren flitting along the trees in the marsh, over 45 American Robins flying overhead in large groups, and 1 American Pipit seen by two members of the group. We tried to relocate the bird later in the day without success.

We picked up a great sample of Maine’s woodpeckers with 4 species including multiple Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers. On the walk back to the car for mid-morning snack break we saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker flying back and forth among the trees. Back at the car we could hear the tapping of what seemed to be a large woodpecker. We were thrilled when a Pileated Woodpecker poked its head out briefly.

After our break we ventured out to the pier, where despite some unfriendly winds we picked up 2 Red-necked Grebes, a few Purple Sandpipers and a mix of scoters, gulls, and ducks.

As with any trip we are happy to take a minute to pause for things other than birds. We had quite a mammal show including a red fox sunning itself on a log, a delightful red squirrel eating berries along the shore trial and a white-tailed deer that crossed the road only 15 feet from the group.

We had a total of 51 species to round out our day! We did manage to see a few late migrants including 1 Ruby-Crowned Kinglet and 1 Blackpoll Warbler. You can see our full list of birds here:

Stay tuned for our December trip announcement coming shortly. Happy birding!

Mt. Agamenticus Pt. II

by Seth Davis

Five of Maine’s elite young birders ventured to Mt. Agamenticus last Saturday in an effort to do some hawk watching and catch some of the late fall migrants. We were greeted at the top by Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows, two Common Ravens, and an excellent view of a Red-tailed Hawk searching for a meal remaining almost motionless in the sky with the wind! We started out by birding the trails on the east side of the mountain. Hermit Thrushes seemed to be the dominant species having seen at least a dozen of them rooting on the ground, but we found patches of mixed-flocks of Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice (Titmouses? Still not sure on that one!) and Ruby-crowned/Golden-crowned Kinglets among others.

On our way back up (having only gotten a little lost) we came across a nice warbler flock. They were primarily Yellow-rumped Warblers, but among them was a late Black-throated Green Warbler, which sadly only a couple of us got a view of.

When back at the top, we decided to test our skills at hawk watching from the viewing platform. Due to the fairly strong westerly winds, hawks were not too prevalent, though we did pick up some distant Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures. While the majority of us were focused miles away, Weston was keenly aware of what was going on under our noses and amazingly spotted a Baltimore Oriole that landed right in front of us! Due to the lack of excitement of distant hawks, and the renewed excitement from Weston’s excellent spotting we moved our efforts to the immediate area and sure enough we spotted goldfinches, and Eastern Phoebe, Gray Catbird, and a Blackpoll Warbler!

We then walked down the mounting (Seth drove because he’s lazy) and on the way down the group saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker and Ian got a brief glimpse of a Ruffed Grouse flushing into the trees!

At the base, we made our yearly visit to Center for Wildlife to look at all the ambassador birds and wildlife there. It was exciting to get to see these birds up close and learn more about all the good that the center does for the animals in the area. We picked up a few additional “wild” species while there brining our final species count to 27, which is very decent for mid-October! The full eBird checklist can be seen here.

We had a blast, and can’t wait until next year to get to do it all over again! Our next trip will be in mid-November so be on the lookout for our trip announcement ~2 weeks prior to the event.