Since 2019, RLHT has proudly offered the Rangeley Birding Festival. We conserve, steward, and restore lands in the Rangeley Lakes Region for you to return to time and time again. 

JUNE 9-11, 2023

Rangeley Birding Festival

From Boreal Chickadees in our vast forests to Loons on our magnificent lakes to the rare Bicknell’s Thrush in the high peaks above, the Rangeley Region is rich with birds. Add in both migrating and breeding warblers, and you have a unique opportunity to see and learn about birds that are difficult to find in other parts of Maine, all in one weekend!

Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust will open daily at 5:30 AM to assist you. When you arrive in town, check in at Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, the Headquarters for the RBF. We’ll have a nametag, hard copy directions, and answers to your questions.

Transportation: RBF will not provide transportation. Trips will meet at the site. Refer to the Locations Map (below) for parking specifics.

Group Sizes: Birding Trips are limited to 10 participants and two guides. The two exceptions are Birds on Tap! and Forestry for Maine Birds. 


Birding Trips

Download your copy of the schedule and register quickly. Trip descriptions are below – please reach out if you have questions!

Space is limited (and will sell out!), so save your spot today! 


This strenuous trip focuses on birding the high-elevation spruce-fir forests of Saddleback Mountain for boreal forest birds. In addition to standard birding gear, participants must bring a day pack, 2 liters of water, a bagged lunch, bug repellent, sunscreen, a raincoat or windbreaker, and a head net. 

Key Species: Bicknell’s Thrush
Physical demands: Expect approximately 2 miles of hiking on mostly uneven terrain. Saddleback Maine will provide transportation to the Bicknell’s Thrush habitat. Participants will hike down. 
Difficulty: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Parking: Park along the Access Road before the Lodge on the left. 
Meet: At the Saddleback Welcome Sign and flagpole. 
Arrival: 6:15 AM
Depart: 6:30 AM 
Return to Parking: 2:30 PM

Over 60% of all the species ever seen in Franklin County are documented on Boy Scout Road. This dirt drive cuts through prime boreal habitat. It allows you to walk up to nesting warblers, compare vireo species nearby, and even pick up waterbirds along the Kennebago. 

Key Species: Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Boreal Chickadee, Philadelphia Vireo, warblers including Cape May, Tennessee, Bay-breasted.
Physical demands: Expect approximately 2 miles of walking on a dirt road with varying terrain. 
Difficulty: ⭐️⭐️ 
Parking: Turn onto Boy Scout Road and drive for 1 mile. Turn left onto a dirt road with an open green gate. This entrance is the driveway for the Boy Scout Camp. Park carefully along this driveway/road, the turtle’s nest in the sand. 
Meet: At the parking area at the Boy Scout Camp
Arrival: 6:15 AM
Depart: 6:30 AM 
Return to Parking: 10:30 AM

Perham Stream is a little-known gem in East Madrid, Maine. Expect a leisurely fairly flat walk along the Perham Stream at the foot of the Saddleback Range with views of the mountains across the fields and forest. The habitat includes northern hardwoods and mixed-wood forests of young to medium age. We’ll see and more often hear a variety of warblers including within the riverine, forest, and field habitats. If time and interest allow, a short drive away can give us access to a short access trail into a slightly higher elevation habitat.

Guide: Pete McKinley
Key Species: Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Magnolia Warbler, Belted Kingfisher, and Red-eyed Vireo
Physical demands: Expect approximately 2 miles of hiking on mostly rolling terrain. 
Difficulty: ⭐️⭐️
Parking: Park along East Madrid Road on the left across from the Perham Farm Settlement Museum. 
Meet: At the parking area and trailhead sign. 
Arrival: 6:15 AM
Depart: 6:30 AM 
Return to Parking: 10:30 AM

A relatively easy way to sample the diversity of breeding warblers of the area, along with the chance to see Common Loons, breeding Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Ruffed Grouse, and Moose. Numerous Blackburnian Warblers are often the star of the show here, with great views readily available throughout much of the trail as Winter Wrens serenade us from the shadows. Expect some muddy sections and lots of slippery roots.

Guide: Derek Lovitch
Key Species: Blackburnian, Nashville, Magnolia Warblers, American Redstarts, etc. 
Physical demands: Expect approximately 2 miles of walking on uneven terrain and bog-bridging. 
Difficulty: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
Parking: Park at the HCWS parking area.
Meet: At the picnic table in the parking area.  
Arrival: 6:15 AM
Depart: 6:30 AM 
Return to Parking: 10:30 AM  

Quill Hill offers the opportunity to bird in various habitats as you climb above the treeline. Birders will meet halfway up the mountain to bird lower elevations, and then drive to the top to explore the accessible hiking trail. 

This trip provides the easiest access to the widest variety of habitats of any of the weekend trips. 

Guide(s): Doug Hitchcox and Ed Jenkins
Key Species: Nashville, Chesnut-sided, and Magnolia Warblers, American Redstarts, Kinglets, Ruffed Grouse, Northern Flicker, Swainson’s Thrush 
Physical demands: Expect approximately 2 miles of walking on uneven terrain and bog-bridging. 
Difficulty: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
Parking: Drive approximately 6 minutes to a second gate, where your guides will meet you 
Meet: At the parking area
Arrival: 6:15 AM
Depart: 6:30 AM 
Return to Parking: 10:30 AM  

The RLTC, located on Saddleback Mountain Road, offers miles of trails with transitional forests. The trails provide birders with opportunities leading to the Saddleback Mountain Lodge and Saddleback Lake. 

Key Species: Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Boreal Chickadee, Philadelphia Vireo, warblers including Cape May, Tennessee, Bay-breasted, and more.
Physical demands: Expect approximately 2 miles of walking on a dirt road with varying terrain. 
Difficulty: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
Parking: Park at the Rangeley Lakes Trails Center
Meet: At the Yurt in the parking area. 
Arrival: 6:15 AM
Depart: 6:30 AM 
Return to Parking: 10:30 AM  

Join Derek Lovitch for a free introduction to the common town birds of Rangeley. Open to all (including first-time birding residents!), we’ll discuss the basics of bird identification by focusing on some of the most common and conspicuous birds in the area.

We’ll keep an eye out overhead for eagles and other raptors, listen for fly-over boreal finches, and marvel at the aerial acrobatics of Chimney Swifts.

Then, at 4:30 pm, join Derek for a guiding beer-tasting session. A specially-curated flight of three samples will be offered for purchase and Derek will explain each style and guide you through a dedicated comparison.

Participants will cover the cost of their flights (and gratuity) at Parkside & Main. 


Difficulty: ⭐️
Parking: Park near Parkside and Main Restaurant
Meet: At Parkside & Main’s Back Deck
Start: 4:00 PM 
Close: 6:00 PM

Spend the afternoon on Rangeley’s Haley Pond with the Rangeley Adventure Company. Expect a leisurely paddle on the 170-acre pond in the heart of Rangeley Village. 

All gear will be provided. Prior on-the-water experience is recommended. 

Guide: Katrina Fenton & Seth Laliberte
Key Species: Common Loon
Physical demands: Expect approximately 2 miles of paddling on flat water. 
Difficulty: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Parking: Park along Pond St or on Main St. 
Meet: Rangeley Adventure Co, 7 Pond St., Rangeley 
Arrival: 2:45 PM
Depart: 3:00 PM 
Return to Parking: 5:00 PM

Everyone is invited to this informal event – including residents! Join RLHT staff at the Rangeley Tavern for a fun night of birding trivia! There will be three categories, with ten questions and three bonus questions. Prize is TBD. 

You don’t have to RSVP, but we’d love to know who to expect! 

Location: The Rangeley Tavern at the Rangeley Inn
Parking: On Main St.
Start: 7:00 PM
Close: 8:00 PM 

This 30-minute dark sky film speaks to why it is crucial to preserve dark sky areas, emphasizing the unique dark sky environment of the north Maine woods.

Dark sky conservation benefits wildlife and their habitats by reducing human health and safety risks, saving energy, and reducing costs. Light pollution devastates migrating birds, native plants, and pollinators.

By using the designated dark sky areas in northern Maine as examples of natural, dark sky environments and highlighting the opportunities to engage with the sky through the astronomy and nature programs offered by organizations in the region, we will educate the public on why dark skies are essential and can motivate viewers to shift their habits and take action to reduce light pollution in their communities.

Location: Lakeside Theater, 2493 Main St., Rangeley

Spend the late afternoon learning how to improve your woodlot! Join Sally Stockwell of Maine Audubon as she gives you the skills to assess your woodland for bird habitat. Learn the tools you’ll need and practice in the field. Then apply your new skills to your own forestland or a community forest near you to determine how to enhance habitat for birds and other wildlife.

Guide: Sally Stockwell
Physical demands: Approx. one mile of walking on inconsistent terrain. 
Difficulty: ⭐️⭐️
Parking: At the Mingo Springs Birding Trailhead on the corner of Mingo Loop and Alpine Way
Meet: At the parking area
Arrival: 3:45 PM
Depart: 4:00 PM 
Return to Parking: 6 PM

eBird has many ways to help your birding—and we bet you don’t know them all. Are you just starting to use technology to bird? Join us for this hour and you learn tips, and tricks to eBird! 

Teacher: Amanda Laliberte
Location: Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust 
Start: 2:00 PM 
Close: 3:00 PM

Locations & Directions

Keynote & Speakers

Unraveling the mysteries of the Eastern Golden Eagle

Each fall an estimated 5,000 Golden Eagles migrate from eastern Canada into the US to spend the winter. Once they pass by the myriad of hawk watches dotted across the eastern US, they vanish into the forests of their wintering grounds only to be seen again as they head back north on spring migration. For the last 18 years, Mike Lanzone and Trish Miller have been watching, trapping, and tracking these enigmatic birds to better understand their behavior and ecology during winter and throughout the year. Through the story of their nearly two-decade long journey studying these amazing birds, Mike and Trish provide an intimate view into the secretive lives of these ghosts of the eastern forests.

Mike is the CEO of Cellular Tracking Technologies, a company that develops high-end animal tracking devices for studies conducted across the globe. He has worked on many research and banding projects across the world and has specialized in technological advancements and applied conservation.

Trish Miller, Ph.D. is a senior research wildlife biologist and executive director of Conservation Science Global. Her research focuses on conservation of raptors with an emphasis on reducing conflicts with human development. She has been studying the eastern population of golden eagles since 2005.

Make a Nomination

John Bicknell Award for Birding Conservation Excellence

With this award, we seek to publicly acknowledge those individuals who have worked to further birding and conserve bird habitat in Maine. This award is particularly intended to recognize those unheralded people who have labored largely behind the scenes and who may have been overlooked and unacknowledged for their contributions. It is presented to no more than one recipient each year (unless we recognize a collaborative effort by two or more people). 

Amanda Laliberte (RLHT), Blaise deSibour and Leslie Clapp (2022 Winner) and Carson Hinckley (2019 Winner)

Get to Know Our Guides

Steve Hale

Steve Hale, holds university degrees in marine biology, evolutionary biology, and ecology. He grew up in Pennsylvania but now has lived in New England for over 25 years. Steve is an experienced naturalist and birder. In 2016 he founded Open World Explorers to share his experience with others.

Nick Leadley

Nick is a professional nature photographer, owner of Touch The Wild Photography, and a Maine Recreational Guide. He has recently published Gavia: Tales From Loon Country. The book pairs his photographs of Common Loons with personal experiences from people around the world. Stop by his shop on 2501 Main Street! 

Pete McKinley

Peter is a research ecologist and conservation planner with The Wilderness Society (TWS) Research Team based out of the TWS Northern Appalachians office in Hallowell, Maine.

Brendan McKay

Brendan is a long time birder from Portland, ME. He works at Allagash Brewing Company and spends his free time volunteering at the River Point bird banding station in Falmouth, ME.

Ed Jenkins holding small bird
Ed Jenkins

Ed Jenkins is an avian biologist with the Biodiversity Research Institute in Portland, Maine. He coordinates River Point Bird Observatory and studies birds throughout the state. Originally from the UK, Ed has conducted bird research in New Zealand, Australia, China, Israel, and elsewhere.

Sierra Latham

Sierra Latham started her career with the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2013 when she did a summer internship at Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, the same station where she is now empoloyed. 

Jason Latham

Jason Latham moved to Rangeley in 2019 and is RLHT’s Natural Resource Biologist. He attended Unity College and Antioch University of New England where he studied wildlife conservation and environmental science. He’s conducting annual bird surveys on the Kennebago Headwaters Project

Doug Hitchcox
Doug Hitchcox

Doug is the staff naturalist at Maine Audubon and the frequently quoted “go-to” expert on wildlife events and news. After graduating from the University of Maine in 2011, Doug traveled throughout the state to observe as many bird species as he could find. He ended the year with 314, a state record. Doug volunteers as one of Maine’s eBird reviewers, is the owner and moderator of the “Maine-birds” listserv.

Derek Lovitch

Derek and his wife Jeannette of Pownal own and operate Freeport Wild Bird Supply. Derek guides throughout the state and has led tours from Alaska to Hawaii. He has authored numerous articles and has written two books, including Birdwatching in Maine: A Site Guide (2017).

Katrina Fenton

Katrina Fenton does contract work for various nonprofit, federal, and private organizations as a seasonal field technician.“I conduct bird, plant, vernal pool, and other wildlife surveys. I love being out in the field and collecting data. I like analyzing it, too.” Katrina has been deeply involved in the Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory, run by the Harris Center in partnership with New Hampshire Audubon. 

-from the Harris Center 

Sally Stockwell

Sally Stockwell is the Director of Conservation at Maine Audubon. She is a wildlife ecologist with experience in the conservation of nongame, rare, and endangered species in freshwater wetlands, coastal beaches and marshes, and northern forests. Sally holds a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology and an M.S. in wildlife management from the University of Maine and a B.S. in biology from The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington.

Levi Burford

Levi has been enjoying birding in the Rangeley Lakes region since 2018, tricking himself into enjoying wetlands in the Spring. He is been a Technician with New Hampshire Audubon’s Rusty Blackbird project (NH/ME) since 2020 and counter at Pack Monadnock Raptor Migration Observatory (NH) since 2019.

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Event Sponsors

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For Festival Inquiries

Current Conditions

Rangeley Region
Rangeley Region
10:21 am, June 3, 2023
Wind: 15 mph
Pressure: 1021 mb
Visibility: 1.609 km
Sunrise: 4:58 am
Sunset: 8:23 pm

John Bicknell Award for Conservation & Birding

Purpose and Description | To publicly acknowledge those individuals who have worked to further birding and conserve bird habitat in Maine. This award is intended to recognize those unheralded people who have labored mainly behind the scenes and may have been overlooked and unacknowledged for their contributions. It is presented to no more than one recipient each year (unless we recognize a collaborative effort by two or more people).


  • Outstanding service, professionally or as a volunteer, to promote birding and to conserve critical bird habitat
  • Track record of bringing people together to achieve results in birding and bird conservation
  • Effectively work alone or with others to educate the public on the importance of birds as a critical indicator of ecological health and the importance of conserving habitat.
  • History of fostering or supporting a conservation organization or foundation seeking to conserve critical or intact tracts of land, water bodies, and habitat
  • Extensive and substantial contributions to birding and bird conservation

Required Nomination Materials | Due by May 1 each year

  • Name of nominee and complete contact information
  • Current CV or resume from the nominee
  • Clear and concise statement from the nominator justifying the Nomination and addressing the award criteria
  • Letter(s) of endorsement from colleagues that address the award criteria

Send to|, Subject: Bicknell Nomination

Selection Process | The Rangeley Birding Festival core team (minimum of five members) will review nominations and choose a winner by consensus if possible or by vote, if necessary, by May 1 each year. Award will be presented at the annual Rangeley Birding Festival in June in Rangeley, ME.

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