Coastal Maine: Birding Festivals
and Boreal Species

With Gabriel Willow
Friday, May 24 – Saturday, June 1, 2013


Click here to view a full tour itinerary


[b]Atlantic Puffins[/b][br]© Emil Kepko*Atlantic Puffins
© Emil Kepko*
Join Maine native Gabriel Willow on an exciting new itinerary to the beautiful Maine coast. Explore the wilder side of Maine's “Country of the Pointed Firs”: land of lighthouses, quaint villages, and lobster pounds...all nestled in a setting of primeval pine forests, bogs, and bucolic islands. Home to some of the East’s last true wilderness, Maine hosts populations of Atlantic puffin, black bear, moose, shorebirds, and dozens of warbler species. This land of forests and rocky coast has been an inspiration to artists and naturalists for generations.

[b]Acadia National Park[/b][br]© Gary Brownell*Acadia National Park
© Gary Brownell*
This is a trip to the "real Maine": the great boreal forests and craggy coasts of the "down-eastern" region, near the Canadian border. We will also travel to the famously dramatic and beautiful Acadia National Park. Along the way, we'll participate in two bird festivals: the 10th Annual Down East Bird Festival and the Acadia Birding Festival, both featuring expert-led birding workshops, tours, lectures--and plenty of birds of course!

The tour will include some incredible behind-the-scenes opportunities. While Down East, we'll take a chartered boat tour and enjoy a rare landing on Machias Seal Island, home to the largest nesting population of puffins in the continental U.S. Weather permitting, we’ll have the unique opportunity to land on the island, meet puffin scientists, and get unparalleled views of puffins feeding their young, along with razorbills, murres, and roseate, and Arctic terns.  On the way there and back, we will seek out pelagic species such as phalaropes, kittiwakes, shearwaters, storm-petrels, and fulmars, as well as seals and whales. We'll also take a day trip to New Brunswick’s Campobello Island, former summering spot of the Roosevelts; and just outside our Lubec hotel we'll see local lobstermen unloading their catch before a special lobster supper.[b]Blackburnian Warbler[/b][br]© David SpeiserBlackburnian Warbler
© David Speiser

From Down East Maine we'll head to the spectacular Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, which Roger Tory Peterson called “the warbler capital of the world.” In Arcadia, we'll visit a bird-banding station and with luck get to witness ornithologists in action as they band migrant songbirds passing through on their way north. Local guides will take us hiking and canoeing in search of local specialties, such as boreal chickadees, crossbills, gray jays, black-backed woodpeckers, and spruce grouse, as we enjoy the spectacular scenery of Mt. Desert Island.  We'll also enjoy lectures from birding experts such as the editor of Bird Watchers Digest and the director of Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird project. 

[b]Boreal Chickadee[/b][br]© Pierre Bonenfant*Boreal Chickadee
© Pierre Bonenfant*
We hope you'll join us for this special opportunity to visit Maine with knowledgeable naturalist and native Mainer Gabriel Willow, as we take advantage of two birding festivals giving us access to rare birding experiences and expert local guides. You can read more about Gabriel Willow and our selection of accommodations below.  Your Maine tour includes double-occupancy lodging in Machias, Lubec, and Bar Harbor; a lobster dinner; and all transportation in Maine. Limited to 12. $1,795 ($425 single supplement). For all national and international trips, membership in NYC Audubon at the Student/Senior level and up is required.  Please contact Tod Winston at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or 212-691-7483 for more information or to register.  You can also click here to view a full tour itinerary.


About Gabriel Willow

Your guide will be Gabriel Willow, a Maine native who began his career leading tours there over a decade ago. Now based in Brooklyn, you may know Gabriel from NYC Audubon's summer and winter ecocruises, the programs for which Gabriel created.  He also leads popular spring and fall walks in Central Park and Bryant Park, along with many other local and regional tours. Gabriel knows and loves his home state of Maine, and will take you to some of his favorite birding haunts there.  Some of the past participants from NYC Audubon's Maine tours in 2010 and 2012 have generously shared their thoughts on their experiences with Gabriel:

"We enjoyed a very good and memorable week birding in Maine last May with Gabriel Willow as our guide. Gabriel grew up in Maine and his comprehensive knowledge about the area and of Maine birds allowed us to spot about 126 species, everything from puffins to bobolinks. The people in the group were fun to travel with and everyone got along very well."   -- Gerald McGee

"Gabriel Willow, always sensitive to the varied needs and birding levels of his charges, was an extremely knowledgeable guide to an area he knows and loves. We had unforgettable encounters with both migratory birds (many warblers) and seabirds (I especially remember the razorbills and puffins) well as tidal marshes and rocky coasts. A wonderful experience!"  -- Virginia Stotz

"In addition to being an excellent birding leader, Gabe is an all-around naturalist, so if birds happen to be scarce, he can always talk about the local flora. And since Maine is his home territory, he is a font of knowledge about local history. But the real joy of the trip came from seeing the migrant birds settling into their breeding grounds in Maine’s gorgeous coastal landscape." -- Mary Jane Kaplan



Machias Motor Inn, Machias, ME

Located in the center of town and overlooking the Machias River, the Inn is owned by a couple who have lived in Down East Maine all of their lives and aim to provide the most comfortable stay with efficient service and native hospitality. The Inn is situated next to Helen’s Restaurant, home to delicious seafood and nationally famous pies. 

The Inn on the Wharf, Lubec, ME

Converted from a 100-year-old sardine cannery and situated above a still active wharf where lobsterman unload their catch, this inn was opened in 2010 by owners who discovered Lubec by accident but fell in love with the incredible natural beauty of the area and its residents. While staying at the inn you will fall asleep to the sounds of the sea and wake up to the tranquility of a day beside the bay.

Acacia House Inn Bed & Breakfast, Bar Harbor, ME

In the heart of town yet on a peaceful side street, this charming bed and breakfast is ideally located for an easy walk to the harbor and to local restaurants and shops. Built in the 1880s an an annex to one of Bar Harbor's largest hotels, the Acacia House was a private residence for many years before opening once more to guests. We're sure you'll enjoy the Acacia's warm hospitality (and we're told, a delicious breakfast!)


Click here to view a full tour itinerary


Additional pre-trip planning information coming soon.


Please contact Tod Winston at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 212-691-7483 to learn more or register.


* This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.



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