List of Birds in Maine

This “Library of Maine Birds” is far from complete and is a “work in progress” (and probably always will be). We don’t claim that this is a comprehensive list of all the birds that a birder might come across in Maine. Hopefully, it proves to be a useful resource for some birding enthusiasts out there.

Alcids

Dovekie
Alle alle

Small, “plump” with thick neck and relatively large head; short, stout bill and long wings.

Found mainly in open ocean except when nesting on rocky ledges.

Common Murre
Uria aalge

Large alcid with long pointed bill. More slender overall than other alcids. Black on top and white below.

Seen singly or in small groups at sea. Comes ashore only to nest on open ledges and rocky islands.

Thick-billed Murre
Uria lomvia

Similar to Common Murre except stockier with shorter bill, thicker neck and broader wings.

Found singly or in small groups at sea. Nests on rocky ledges.

Razorbill
Alca torda

Thick bill and long, pointed tail. Black above and white below. In breeding plumage, head and neck are black with a white loral-line below the eye.

Nests in rock crevices and under boulders. Like other Alcids, comes ashore only in spring and summer to nest and breed.

Black Guillemot
Cepphus grylle

Adult breeding plumage all black except for white oval on upper wing and white with black edges on under wing. Red legs and feet distinctive.

Nests in rock crevices. Often found close to shore and in harbors.

Atlantic Puffin
Fratercula arctica

Small auk that inhabits the North Atlantic from Maine to the British Isles. Breeding adults known for their colorful bills during the nesting season when they come ashore to breed and raise a single chick.

Stays at sea from mid-August to April. Nests in burrows on remote islands.

Bitterns & Herons

Great Blue Heron
Ardea herodias

Largest heron, often solitary and nocturnal. Wades slowly in quiet water where it hunts for fish and other animals.

Long neck and heavy bill; tucks neck in flight. Gray to grayish-blue body color. White morph most common in Florida Keys.

Great Egret
Casmerodius albus

“Large, stately white heron” – approx. 38″ tall. Larger than Snowy Egret – distinguished from Snowy by its Yellow bill and Black feet.

Most often seen in marshes and swampy areas during Spring and Summer months

Snowy Egret
Egretta thula

Slender, long-necked, white egret with yellow feet. Smaller than Great Egret. Feeds on small fish caught in marsh pannes, ponds and streams.

Tucks long neck when in flight.

Little Blue Heron
Egretta caerulea

Bluish-gray heron similar in size to Snowy Egret. Bluish bill with black tip.

Found in the marsh ponds or salt pannes feeding on small fish in shallow water.

Black-crowned Night-Heron
Nycticorax Nycticorax

Stocky, usually nocturnal heron that feeds in shallow areas of ponds, marshes and shore.

Blackbirds

Red-winged Blackbird
Agelaius phoeniceus

Common and widespread. Nests in wet, brushy areas of marshes, fields, farmland. Male has red & yellow shoulder coverts that are displayed most prominently during breeding season.

Bobolink
Dolichonyx oryzivorus

Found in grassy, weedy meadows and fields. Sparrow-like but slightly larger.

Breeding male displays yellow-ish nape and white rump and wing parts. Female and non-breeding pale brown with striping on wings.

Common Grackle
Quiscalus quiscula

Heavier than blackbirds, long bill, long keeled tail. Dark bronze body with iridescent dark bluish-purple head and breast. Yellow or pale eye.

Often found with blackbirds. The bird pictured here was scavenging along the shore at Pine Point.

Northern Oriole
Icterus galbula

Commonly called “Baltimore Oriole”. Black head, back, wings & tail. Orange breast, rump & shoulders. Male much brighter than female.

Call is loud, clear and short single or mutiple whistles. They readily come to offered oranges and jellies when first arriving back in Spring.

Cardinals & Allies

Northern Cardinal
Cardinalis cardinalis

Brilliant red male; female is warm pale brown with red highlights in wings & tail. Both have crests on top of head, black “face mask” and red bill.

Distinctive call – clear, sharp and high pitched.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Pheucticus ludovicianus

Thick conical bill; male has bright red “bib” on white breast, black head. Female is brownish with boldly striped head, looks similar to female purple finch but larger.

Found in hardwood and mixed forests. Feeds mainly on seeds.

Doves

Mourning Dove
Zenaida macroura

Soft gray dove with long pointed tail. Inhabits rural areas, towns and cities. Frequently found at feeders especially in winter. Very common.

Long mournful call is reason for its name.

Rock Dove
Columba livia

Familiar city pigeon although it is found wherever it can find a reliable food source. This is an introduced species of dove that has spread throughout North America

Falcons

American Kestrel

Falco sparverius

Often called “Sparrow Hawk”. A jay sized falcon that is found in cities and towns as well as in rural open country. Distinctive face markings.

Often sits on power lines next to open fields watching for insects, rodents or small birds.

Finches

American Goldfinch
Carduelis tristis

Males bright yellow during breeding season. Female drab but yellowish all year. Usually seen in flocks.

Feed on weed seeds but come to feeders year ’round for sunflower and niger (thistle) seed.

House Finch
Carpodacus mexicanus

Often mistaken for Purple Finch but is smaller and the red on the male is brighter. Breast and belly are dark striped.

Female is dull brown and striped.

Purple Finch
Carpodacus purpureus

Head, back and upper breast dark red color in males. Often confused with House Finch but have deeper red coloring.

At feeders will eat sunflower or niger seed.

Common Redpolls
Carduelis flammea

Occurances have been irregular in Winter. 2003-2004 winter months saw good-sized flocks of Common Redpolls at feeders throughout the State.

The temperature was -5°F the January morning this picture was taken.

Pine Siskin
Carduelis pinus

Small, inconspicuous finch that are found mainly in coniferous forests, usually in small to medium sized flocks. Can occur in large flocks during irruption years.

Sexes similar brown with overall streaking. Male has a pale yellow wingbar. Bill is small and pointy. Visits sunflower and niger feeders.

Evening Grosbeak
Coccothraustes vespertinus

Usually seen in noisy flocks at or near birdfeeders where they prefer any type of sunflower seed.

Large, thick bill. Male has bright yellow breast and supercillium; white wing patches. Female grayish-yellow or olive.

Flycatchers

Least Flycatcher
Empidonax minimus

Small Empidonax flycatcher with compact body and short wings and bill.

Found in forest clearings and edges. Very similar to Willow and Alder Flycatchers.

Eastern Phoebe
Sayornis phoebe

Common during Spring breeding season. Often found nesting under eaves of buildings.

Sits on a perch waiting to swoop down on an insect on the ground or in flight. Flicks its tail while sitting on the perch. Clear sharp call.

Great Crested Flycatcher
Myiarchus crinitus

Large flycatcher found mostly in hardwood forests. Bright yellow belly and rufous tail. Brown head and short crest; fairly heavy bill.

Cavity nester. Male and female identical.

Eastern Kingbird
Tyrannus tyrannus

Gray and white flycatcher found in open areas often perched on wires or trees limbs watching for insects.

Can be confused with Eastern Phoebe but has a narrow white band at tip of tail and does not twitch tail when perched.

Geese & Ducks

Canada Goose
Branta canadensis

The most commonly seen goose across North America. Inhabits lakes, rivers, bays, marshes and city parks. Often feed in open grasslands & marshes.

Mallard
Anas platyrhynchos

Largest dabbling duck, this familiar duck is found in any wet habitat from cities to rural areas.

Male (or Drake) has a dark greenish head and pale body. Female has brownish body.

Green-winged Teal
Anas crecca

Smallest dabbling duck. Found on marshy ponds.

Feeds mainly by dabbling bill at surface of water.

Greater Scaup
Aythya marila

Greater & Lesser Scaup are very similar – bill and head shape are the most reliable diagnostic features – head color is “useless” in distinguishing Greater from Lesser.

Habitat: Marsh ponds, streams, lakes, bays, estuaries

King Eider
Somateria spectabilis

“A stocky sea duck; on the water foreparts appear white, rear parts black.”

Note orange to yellow bill-shield on male. Female dull brown color with no bill-shield.

Common Eider
Somateria mollissima

Our largest sea duck. Common eiders have a wedge shaped head.

Males have a striking black / white pattern. Female is dull brownish with brown/white/black striping. Head & bill shape similar in male / female.

Harlequin Duck
Histrionicus histrionicus

“Male: A smallish slaty duck with chestnut sides and odd white patches and spots. Female: Dusky with three round white spots.”

Most reliably seen during Winter in the surf along rocky shore in York County especially below the Cliff House (York-Ogunquit area).

White-winged Scoter
Melanitta fusca

Largest of the three scoters Prefers more sandy shores than the other scoters. Nests on freshwater ponds or lakes.

Sloping forehead, white secondaries. Adult male has distinctive white marking below eye. Both adult sexes very dark, almost black.

Long-tailed Duck
Clangula hyemalis

Heavy-bodied sea duck. Found in small groups in shallow ocean waters.

Male has distinctive long tail. White part of face resembles a white mask. Formerly named Oldsquaw.

Bufflehead
Bucephala albeola

Small duck that nests in tree cavities and winters in small flocks on ocean bays and open lakes. Compact, short-billed and relatively large head.

Similar to Goldeneye and Merganser but smaller. Breeding male has distinctive white body and back of head.

Common Goldeneye
Bucephala clangula

Diving duck that nests in tree cavities near ponds & lakes. Winters in open bays, lakes and rivers.

Large head, stocky. Similar to Barrow’s. Note head shape, bill color on female and back & face coloring on male to distinguish.

Hooded Merganser
Lophodytes cucullatus

Smallest merganser; long body and long tail; unique crest is brownish on female and black/white on male during breeding season.

Nest in tree cavities in Spring; winter on open water in bays and lakes.

Common Merganser
Mergus merganser

Long-bodied; larger than hooded or red-breasted mergansers. Long sharp-ended reddish bill. Head appears smoother due to smaller crest.

Found in open water of lakes and rivers. Rides low in water when swimming.

Grebe

Horned Grebe
Podiceps auritus

Small size with relatively long neck; pointed bill; red eyes. Feed by diving for small aquatic animals.

Grebes build floating nests on marshy ponds and winter in open water.

Grouse

Ring-necked Pheasant
Phasianus colchicus

An introduced game bird most often from Asia. Populations are maintained by repeated re-introductions. Prefers open fields and brushy hedgerows.

Adult male has bright red facial skin and broad white neck ring.

Wild Turkey
Meleagris gallopavo

One of the largest birds in North America. Found in flocks in woods and fields. Toms (males) more solitary than hens which stay in groups – often large groups.

Can fly when threatened but prefers to walk or run on the ground.

Gulls & Terns

Laughing Gull
Larus atricilla

Slender, medium sized gull with black hood in breeding plumage. Common along the shore and in salt marshes in summer.

Quick, agile flyer. Often observed feeding on schools of small fish with terns.

Bonaparte’s Gull
Larus philadelphia

Small, tern-like gull. Rarely mixes with larger gulls. Often seen feeding at water’s edge on the incoming or outgoing tides.

Breeding adult has black hood. Narrow, pointed wings; slender, straight, black bill; pink legs and feet.

Ring-billed Gull
Larus delawarensis

Small white-headed gull found near any water and often seen scavenging in parking lots. Often found with larger Herring Gulls.

Relatively short bill with black ring; pointed wings. Adult breeding has pure white head; pale yellow eye (iris).

Herring Gull
Larus argentatus

The most common and widespread gull. Found on the coast and inland across North America.

Aggressive, feeds on most anything. Used to be found in abundance at open dumps. Juveniles have brownish “dirty” coloring.

Great Black-backed Gull
Larus marinus

Our largest gull. Adult has blackish back.
Very aggressive. Predator of other bird species such as Terns and Puffins.

Habitat: North Atlantic coast and inland

Common Tern
Sterna hirundo

The most widespread tern – found on lakes, rivers and ocean. Long slender wings and long tail.

Feeds on small fish caught by diving into the water. Often seen in flocks diving into schools of small fish as if in a feeding frenzy.

Arctic Tern
Sterna paradisaea

Similar to Common Tern but with shorter legs and bill is shorter and in breeding plumage is entirely red (no dark tip). Black cap, long forked tail, slender pointed wings.

Usually seen on land only near nests during the breeding season.

Least Tern
Sterna antillarum

Our smallest tern. Nests on sandy beaches often not far from high-water mark making them vulnerable to disturbance by beach goers and their pets.

Hawks & Eagles

Osprey
Pandian haliaetus

Sometimes referred to as “Fish Hawk”. Hovers above water and dives straight down to catch a fish in its talons.

Builds large nest out of sticks on platforms, bridges and trees near water’s edge.

Nothern Harrier
Circus cyaneus

Owl-like facial disc. Long broad wings and long tail. White rump and banded tail

Usually seen flying low over fields and marshes where it hunts for small birds and mammals.

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Accipiter striatus

Smallest accipiter; relatively small head and bill; broad wings and long banded tail. Adult breast is streaked in reddish-orange; dark gray back.

Agile flyer – able to pursue small birds through woods and bushes.

Red-shouldered Hawk
Buteo lineatus

Small forest buteo; hunts mammals, reptiles & amphibians from perches in the trees.

Several narrow white tail bands; translucent crescent across tips of wings; adult has bright reddish-orange breast coloring

Broad-winged Hawk
Buteo platypterus

Small, forest-dwelling buteo. Hunts small mammals and birds from a perch in the woods.

Single white tail band; underside of wings are pale with dark edge.

Hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Archilochus colubris

Only hummingbird that breeds east of Mississippi River. Male has brilliant, iridescent red throat patch.

Males are aggressive and combative. May even chase a female away from feeder.

Jays & Crows
Blue Jay

Cyanocitta cristata

Noisy opportunist that inhabits both rural and city environments. Wide variety of calls, some very similar to other birds.

Groups of Blue Jays will often mob predators and raptors, screaming loudly.

American Crow
Corvus brachyrhynchos

Also know as Common Crow. Large chunky; completely black. Found throughout No. America; can be very noisy.

Often heard and seen mobbing eagles, hawks and owls.

Kingfishers

Belted Kingfisher
Ceryle alcyon

Found along streams, ponds and lakes where they perch in trees or wires and plunge-dive into the water to catch fish.

Shaggy crest on head.

Kinglets

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Regulus calendula

Tiny insect eater found in mixed forest. Drab grayish coloring above; pale yellowish flanks. Pale eye ring.

Loons

Common Loon
Gavia immer

Large, heavy-billed loon. Winters in open bays and nests in ponds and lakes.

Winter plumage is very different than breeding. Long body with feet very far back to facilitate swimming but make it difficult for loons to walk.

Mimids

Gray Catbird
Dumatella carolinensis

Slate gray with black cap; slim. Long tail.

Sounds or voice sometimes “catlike” mewing – distinctive.

Northern Mockingbird
Mimus polyglottos

Long tail, short bill. White patches on top and bottom of wings & top of tail “flash” in flight. Usually a ground feeder and often found near dense brush.

Can be aggressive near nest during breeding season.

Brown Thrasher
Toxostoma rufum

Bright rufous brown back and brown striped front. Long tail and longish bill.

Feeds on the ground where it is often seen hopping around or turning leaves in search of food.

New World Sparrows

American Tree Sparrow

Spizella arborea

Small, long-tailed sparrow that winters in small flocks in brushy areas. Breeds in the Far North, winters from Maine south.

Pale gray head and cheeks with rufous crown and eyeline. Also rufous patch on shoulders. Distinctive dark spot in center of breast.

Chipping Sparrow

Spizella passerina

Best distinguished from other sparrows by dark eye line and rufous colored “cap” on front top of head.

Prefers open woods with brush or shrubs to hide and rest in. Ground feeder.

Savannah Sparrow

Passerculus sandwichensis

Found in a variety of grassy habitats. Usually not too secretive.

Small bill, grayish to reddish brown coloring with clearly visible streaking on sides, yellowish tinge above eye.

Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow

Ammodramus caudacutus

Small secretive sparrow found almost exclusively in grassy marshes. Yellow/orange and gray face pattern; pale breast with dark streaking.

Small, quick and fond of hiding in the marsh grasses and brush, can be tough to view and id.

Song Sparrow

Melospiza melodia

Stocky striped sparrow with a sweet, melodious song.

Common. Inhabits brushy weedy areas across North America.

White-throated Sparrow

Zonotrichia albicollis

Small, plump sparrow with outlined white throat patch. Yellow above and in front of eyes (lores). Rusty brown and white on wings.

Ground feeder – prefers areas with available dense brush to hide in case of danger.

Slate-colored Junco

Junco hyemalis

Small dark gray sparrow with white (or lighter gray) belly and white outer feathers in its tail that “flash” in flight or when landing.

Often called a “Snowbird” because they tend to show up under feeders during the colder months. Slate-colored is the most widespread of the Dark-eyed Juncos.

Snow Bunting

Plectrophenax nivalis

Relatively large member of the sparrow family with fluffy plummage. Orange-reddish head markings, black wing tips and “flashy” white wing patches.

Breeds in the Far North and occurs in flocks in Maine during the winter months. Ground feeder.

Nuthatches

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Sitta canadensis

Smaller than white-breasted. Stubby, short tail. Distinctive white stripe (supercilium) above the eye.

Like other nuthatches, tends to “walk” down a tree trunk searching for insects and worms in the bark. Will take sunflower seeds and suet from feeders. Cavity nester.

White-breasted Nuthatch
Sitta carolinensis

Largest nuthatch. Found mainly in mature woods. Long upturned bill, short tail. Nuthatches usually start in upper part of tree and climb down the trunk.

Year ’round resident in Maine. At feeders will eat sunflower seed and suet.

Old World Sparrows

House Sparrow
Passer domesticus

Introduced species that thrive in cities and near active farmland. They are not true sparrows and are a threat to many native species like bluebirds with whom they compete for nesting cavities or boxes.

Plovers

Black-bellied Plover
Pluvialis squatarola

Largest plover with larger head and heavy bill. Black belly, white in wings and white tail.

Found feeding in open areas such as mudflats.

Piping Plover
Charadrius melodus

Small sand-colored plover that breeds on sandy beaches in late spring & summer. Nests on the sand at the top of a beach where eggs and chicks are vulnerable to beach goers and roaming pets.

Semipalmated Plover
Charadrius semipalmatus

Small plover that inhabits mudflats and beaches. Similar in size to Piping Plover but darker brown coloring on wings and head.

Orange bill and dark breastband.

Killdeer
Charadrius vociferus

Our largest ringed plover. Nests on the ground in open fields, golf courses, etc. When nest is approached, the adult will feign injury – usually a broken wing – to draw intruder away.

Sharp, crisp call.

Sandpipers

Greater Yellowlegs

Tringa melanoleuca

Wader that’s found in variety of shallow water habitats. Greater Yellowlegs has a slightly upturned bill and is slightly larger than Lesser Yellowlegs.

Lesser Yellowlegs

Tringa flavipes

Smaller than Greater Yellowlegs with shorter bill; legs are relatively longer. Found in shallow waters of streams and marshes feeding on small fish.

Bobs head and body when alarmed.

Willet

Catoptrophorus semipalmatus

Large, noisy sandpiper often found along marsh streams and salt pannes.

Striking wing pattern with broad white wing stripes seen in flight.

Spotted Sandpiper

Actitis macularia

Common and widespread along the shores of lakes, streams and rivers.

Rounded, distinctive breast spots in summer – brownish above.

Whimbrel

Numenius phaeopus

Primarily a coastal species of wader that is found in salt marshes, beaches and mudflats. Bill is curved downward and is shorter than Curlew.

Sturdy body, pointed wings, grayish-brown all over, slightly lighter belly.

Ruddy Turnstone

Arenaria interpres

Usually found on rocky shores and beaches where they use their short bills to flip rocks searching for food.

Orange legs, short bill; black/white face pattern on adult is distinctive.

Sanderling

Calidris alba

A common sandpiper found on sandy beaches feeding at the edge of the surf. Larger than peeps and short billed.

Broad white wing stripe. White belly. Breeding adult male has rufous-colored neck. Non-breeding adults have pale gray back.

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Calidris pusilla

Found on beaches and mudflats probing for food.

White belly and brownish, mottled back, neck & head blend well in marsh grasses and salt pannes.

Least Sandpiper

Calidris minutilla

World’s smallest sandpiper; found in small flocks on mudflats near weedy vegetation.

Small-headed with short, pointed bill. Greenish legs, brownish breast.

Short-billed Dowitcher

Limnodromus griseus

Medium size sandpiper with heavy bill. Slightly smaller than a Willet but with longer bill. Prefers to feed in mudflats and on beaches.

Usually seen in Maine’s marshy areas during migration.

Swallows

Tree Swallow
Tachycineta bicolor

A fast flying swallow with white front and dark bluish back. Often seen swooping low over water catching bugs.

Cavity nester that takes readily to nest boxes. Males aggressive to other males during breeding season. Voice can sound “liquid”.

Tanagers

Scarlet Tanager
Piranga olivacea

Male is distinctive with brilliant red with black wings and tail. Female is drab greenish-gray. Gray bill is stout and sharp.

Found in variety of wooded areas. Feeds on insects and fruit.

Thrushes

American Robin
Turdus migratorius

Probably the most familiar of the song birds, robins are common in most habitats from tundra to our lawns.

Adults have the distinctive reddish-orange breast. Builds nests in trees or about any available flat surface.

Vireos

Red-eyed Vireo
Vireo olivaceus

Fairly large with relatively long bill. Greenish back, pale yellow rump and white breast. Gray crown.

Red eye iris in adults can be difficult to observe in the field.

Warbling Vireo
Vireo gilvus

Pale or lightly colored vireo with slightly hooked bill. Found in broadleaf trees and dense brush. Feed on berries and insects.

Grayish with pale yellow on sides. Coloring is paler than Red-eyed and bill is shorter.

Vultures

Turkey Vulture
Cathartes aura

Large bird with 6′ wingspan usually seen soaring over countryside or interstate highways. Head is bare with a reddish color.

Waxwings

Cedar Waxwing
Bombycilla cedrorum

Crested, sleek looking; larger than sparrows. Yellow tip on tail; yellowish belly on adults. Gregarious and often travel and feed in compact flocks.

Eat berries and insects all year. Found in winter eating berries and fruits from shrubs and trees.

Wood Warblers

Blackpoll Warbler
Dendroica striata

Relatively large warbler that usually nests in spruce woods. During migration they’re found in any woods.

Long wings and short tail. Faint streaking on sides of breast, grayish sides of neck.

Canada Warbler
Wilsonia canadensis

Usually found in dense, shady trees often near water. Grayish upper, yellow underside with black “necklace” streaks.

Common Yellowthroat
Geothlypis trichas

Small secretive warbler with a gentle, musical song. Prefers marshy, brushy vegetation near water.

Short neck; small bill; rounded wings and tail.

Mourning Warbler
Oporornis philadelphia

Small, sturdy warbler with long body and relatively short tail.

Male’s head and face darker gray than female.

Yellow Warbler
Dendroica petechia

Common and widespread; found in brush and trees at woodland edges. Prefers wet areas.

Bright yellow plummage with reddish streaks on breast.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Dendroica coronata

Found in open woods and brushy areas often perched on limbs waiting for flying insects.

Large warbler with round head and stout, black bill. Grayish to brownish back. Yellow patches on sides and rump.

Woodpeckers

Downy Woodpecker
Picoides pubescens

Our smallest woodpecker. Similar to Hairy but smaller with shorter bill. Like Hairy, adult male has red plumage “spot” on top-back of head.

Found in or near woods. Readily visits suet and sunflower feeders.

Hairy Woodpecker
Picoides villosus

Similar to Downy Woodpecker but larger. Favors mature woods. Strong, often shrill voice. Call is short and high pitched. Male has red plumage “spot” on back of head.

Like the Downy Woodpecker, visits suet feeders and also likes sunflower seeds.

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Melanerpes carolinus

Medium-sized woodpecker with short wings and long tail. Bright red nape, brownish body and barred back & wings.

Very visible in Maine recently and may be expanding its territory north. Usually seen visiting suet and sunflower seed feeders.

Northern Flicker
Colaptes auratus

Only brown-backed woodpecker in the East. Yellow-shafted Flickers occur in the East.

Only woodpecker that commonly feeds on the ground where they find ants and beetles.

Wrens

House Wren
Troglodytes aedon

Grayish-brown wren commonly found in gardens and brushy woods. Secretive with a loud, clear song in summer.

Eastern population is more grayish than Western birds.

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