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Birdwatching in Portland, Maine

Here’s a universal rule of life. If your diet consists of garbage and discarded smelly fish, you’re going to develop self image problems later on in life. Pity the seagull!  Here’s one I recently spotted down by the Casco Bay Lines Ferry Terminal in Portland coaxing the last drops out of a nips bottle. For some, it’s a hard, cruel life.

a bird sitting on top of a wooden bench

This mural on the Black Elephant Inn off of India Street attests to how hard and complicated the avian life can be.

a car parked in front of a building

And yet, there is lots of avian beauty, too, in Portland, a bird watching paradise for fans of our feathered friends. In the summer, it’s not uncommon on the waterfront to spot these big boys, Great Blue Herons. They’re here with all the other tourists up from South America.

a bird sitting on top of a body of water

Out on the marshes, just outside of town, beautiful snowy egrets are abundant, arriving here from the south in early spring and departing late in the Fall.

a flock of seagulls standing next to a body of water

Over the harbor, the ospreys patrol for fish all summer long. You can see their nests out on posts and old pier pylons on a walk along the shore up to the Eastern Prom.

a flock of seagulls standing next to a bird

And if you’re lucky enough (and quick) you might even catch a glimpse of the peregrine falcon that returns to Portland year after year to nest on the Casco Bay Bridge, the connection between Portland and South Portland. That guy comes through my backyard once a day, at head level, at about 90 miles per hour, and I almost drop my drink every time it does. I’m not exaggerating. Peregrine falcons, in their dive, can exceed 200 MPH.

a close up of a bird

For my money though, the best birdwatching is right here, in the mornings, at Standard Baking Co. down on Commercial Street.

a large brick building with a store on the side of a road

James Beard nominated Standard Baking Co., supplier of bread to Fore street, Scales, and Street and Co., is easily one of the best bakeries in America, and they one of the best croissants I’ve ever had.  In the summer, plucky little sparrows hop around looking for scraps of the baked goods that everybody is enjoying for breakfast. Your common sparrows say “chirp chirp.” Ours say “oooh la la.”

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Written by Ross – Portland History Tour Guide

Referred to by his family as a “fuzzy foreigner”, Ross grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada, fell in love with a woman from Boston, and has been in Maine raising his family for over 20 years now. He loves Maine and loves his job as a tour guide, both for the interaction with new people it affords him (don’t be surprised to get as many questions as you ask) and the constant exploration he is always making of the many intricate and fascinating links between his adopted state and his homeland.

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