Bird Ecology

Schoodic Institute’s Bird Ecology Program carries out biodiversity conservation studies through year-round bird research and education programs. It engages professional ornithologists, citizen scientists, Acadia National Park visitors, and students of all ages.

Download and print Bird Ecology brief  HERE.

Schoodic Institute’s Bird Ecology Program offers a range of field trips, workshops, tours and other events for birders and nature lovers. Whether a beginner or advanced participant, all are welcome! All programs require advance registration to limit participant numbers and to provide the best experiences.

Field Birding Trips are usually 2 to 3 hours in length. We design these to visit a local seasonal hotspot or series of hotspots. We usually meet at a specific hotspot and explore it on foot. Other field trips declare a meeting place and then travel by van to experience a series of hotspots. Specific details will be advertised. Guide-to- participant ratio is 1:14 or better.

Workshops feature a combination of limited classroom instruction to compliment and enhance a majority of field time. Our approach is to maximize enjoyment and learning through thoughtful teaching and camaraderie. Workshops usually have an overnight option. Guide-to- participant ratio is 1:12 or better.

Tours are multi-day, residential birding-focused experiences. Our current offerings are 5 days and 4 nights in length. June tours feature exploration in the northwoods looking for boreal landbird specialties before coming to the institute to concentrate on seabirds (think puffins and terns) and pelagics birds (and whales). Guide-to- participant ratio is 1:6 or better.

All program content focuses upon building identification skills, discussing conservation and ecology, and emphasizes the use and purpose of data collection apps such as Merlin and eBird. Your registration fees support the mission of the Schoodic Institute and research projects of the Bird Ecology Program.

Bald Eagle Photo: NPS/Kent Miller

Bald Eagle Photo: NPS/Kent Miller

Schoodic Institute’s SeaWatch

SeaWatch has monitored the coastal migration of autumn’s southbound birds since 2011, counting thousands of birds between September and Thanksgiving. SeaWatch at Schoodic Point is a citizen science program conducted by staff and volunteers of the Schoodic Institute’s Bird Ecology Program. Learn how you can participate here.   Are you an early riser? Head in to Acadia National Park – Schoodic Point, Winter Harbor and watch for migratory waterbirds. Drop-in from sunrise until 9:30 AM beginning September 16, through November 17, 2017. Daily barring inclement weather. Bring binoculars. Dress for the weather. No registration required.

Acadia National Park’s Hawk Watch on Cadillac Mountain

Hawk Watch is a collaborative effort between the park’s Interpretive Division and Schoodic Institute’s Bird Ecology Program. Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park is the highest point along the Atlantic coast from the Canadian border to Brazil. Its latitude makes Cadillac Mountain a natural sentinel and exceptional early detection point for observing the northeastern-most headwaters of what becomes a spectacular river of southbound raptors. 

Frazer Point Early Bird Watch 

Frazer Point Early Bird Watch is the third and newest migration monitoring program being conducted by the Schoodic Institute Bird Ecology Program.  The public is invited each Thursday in November to join the observation gathering and witness songbird migration, learn identification tips, gain bird conservation knowledge, and find out about a variety of opportunities to participate as a Schoodic Institute citizen scientist. Free program but registration IS required. Find all details and registration information here.


March 20, 2018: The Tuesday Morning Birding group had some close looks at Harlequin Duck, Black Scoter, Horned Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, and a pair of circling Bald Eagle. A clear blue sky, diminishing WNW wind, and sunshine made the 20 degree weather feel more like 40.  The full checklist is attached HERE!!

October 2017: See the latest totals of migratory birds in Acadia National Park, Frazer Point, Winter Harbor, Maine HERE!  eBird was launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. eBird provides rich data sources for basic information on bird abundance and distribution at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.

Birding Tours

Schoodic Institute’s Bird Ecology Program also offers birding tours in partnership with the Maine Birding Trail.  Designed with Bob Duchesne, former Maine State legislator, natural history tour operator, and author of “The Maine Birding Trail,” these programs consist of 4 nights lodging, 5 days of field trips, food, van travel, a boat tour, and expert instructors. Each Tour is limited to 10 participants to insure proper attention. Package price includes lodging, all tour meals, guided transportation by 15-passenger van, and boat excursion fees.  All sightings will be reported to eBird, a global data portal for citizen scientists, and participants will learn about migratory bird research conducted at and supported by Schoodic Institute.

What species will you see during a Schoodic Institute birding tour?  Learn what was reported during Mountains to Sea II, September 2 – 6, 2016 to eBird, a real-time, online checklist program. Click HERE for the tour’s full species count, including the highest count for each.

 2018 Tours:

• Mountains to the Sea I and II •

June 8 – 12  OR  June 22 – 26, 2018 (Now FULL)   •  Cost: $1150.00 – (based on double occupancy) Lodging upgrades available. * Single supplement is an additional $140 per person.

These two 5-day, 4-night tours feature the northern forest during the height of songbird singing as well as the raucous seabird breeding islands along the downeast coast of Maine. The scenery on this adventure is spectacular and equal to the variety of birds to be found.  Birds of note: American Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers, Spruce Grouse, Boreal Chickadees, a variety of warblers and flycatchers, Atlantic puffin, Razorbill, Arctic Tern and pelagic species. Lodging is at Big Moose Inn and Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park.

• Maines Winged Migration I and II •

August 17 – 21  OR  August 27 – 31, 2018  •  Cost: $1150.00  (based on double occupancy). Lodging upgrades available. * Single supplement is an additional $140 per person.

This tour will spend two nights at the Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park surrounded by the mainland portion of Acadia National Park. Then, we’ll shift to the Eastland Motel in Lubec for two nights, which sits within 15 minutes of Quoddy Head State Park and the South Lubec Sand Flats. We’ll explore the spruce-fir maritime forest, Acadia’s coastline, and visit Canada’s Campobello Island. We’ll be rewarded with a variety of songbirds, migratory shorebirds, pelagic birds and whales.

Participants should bring binoculars, and each tour is quite good for photography. Spotting scopes can be useful, which the guides will provide for group use, as well as guidebooks and extra binoculars. Each tour will not require strenuous hiking. Hikes will be slow and on level ground. There may be some spots that are muddy, uneven, and slippery. Adequate footwear is advised, but large boots are unnecessary. Boat tours can be cold and wet. Bring appropriate clothing.

2018 Registration Form Gift certificate available for this event. Please inquire when registering.

Trip specifics and details can also be found at:    For more information, contact the leaders: Bob Duchesne,, 207-827-3782 or Seth Benz,, 207-288-1350

Enjoy video by Bob Duchesne: Mountains to the Sea 2016

Enjoy photos and video of 2015 tours: Mountains to the Sea and Winged Migration.


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