L.L. Bean is holding its first birding festival this weekend to accommodate the growing popularity of the activity in Maine.

The L.L. Bean birding festival, held in partnership with Maine Audubon, offers three days of introductory classes aimed at beginner birders and families. It is the first three-day birding festival in southern Maine.

“There is nothing like it in this area of this scope,” said Bill Yeo, the retail manager of the Outdoor Discovery School. “The next biggest birding festival of this scale is three hours from here, in Acadia.”

This weekend’s birding festival is the latest of several in Maine. The Acadia Birding Festival on Mount Desert Island, which takes place next weekend, enters its 17th year. Maine also has the Aroostook State Park Birding Festival, now in its seventh year, and the Downeast Spring Birding Festival around Cobscook Bay running now for 12 years. The Feathers over Freeport festival – held in April at Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal and Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport – has been going for five years.

Maine Audubon education director Eric Topper said consideration was given to other birding festivals to make sure there was no conflict. While the L.L. Bean festival is the same weekend as the Downeast Spring Birding Festival, Topper said the two festivals are so far apart they did not seem to compete for participants. Freeport is a four-hour drive from Whiting, where the Downeast festival is based.

“My hope is this serves as a great opportunity for people to get field guides and binoculars and then next year take the next step to go to one of those other birding festivals,” Topper said. “It shouldn’t conflict. It should be mutually beneficial.”


Becky Marvil, the director of the Acadia festival, said there is a need in Maine for a larger festival that caters specifically to beginner birders and families.

The Acadia festival is unique in Maine, Marvil said, because it draws participants from across the country and even outside the United States. But Marvil said the Acadia festival, run by as many as 40 expert birding guides, tends to draw older birders, even those who are retired, and lacks events aimed at younger birders.

“That’s something I have attempted to do with the Acadia festival, but it’s not easy to bring in families,” Marvil said. “And school is still in session in June. My understanding is the (Freeport) festival will draw more locally, with a focus on families.”


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