Short Trips for Target Birds Series

MAINE: Red-billed Tropicbird

Red-billed Tropicbird, photo by Kevin Loughlin


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2021 :: June 12 - June 15
2022 :: June 11 - June 14
2023 :: June 10 - June 13



From: $1,250 (See details)
Cost is per person, double occupancy from Bangor, Maine (BGR)


3 - 5 Participants


2021: 1 spaces available
2022: 5 spaces available
2023: 5 spaces available


This tour is available as a private trip for any size group. The tour cost will vary with the number of people and any custom requests.

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Highlights of MAINE: Red-billed Tropicbird

  • Targeting Maine’s returning vagrant Red-billed Tropicbird
  • 4-day extension to our ‘MAINE: Mountains & Coast’ tour
  • Great Cormorant, Atlantic Puffin, Arctic Tern
  • Birding and boating along the scenic Maine coast

Description of MAINE: Red-billed Tropicbird

Lobster, puffins, moose, lighthouses, scenic and rugged shorelines…. all classic images conjured up when you think of Maine. A tropicbird though, probably not something that instantly comes to mind when you think of the New England coast. And yet one stunning adult male Red-billed Tropicbird has returned to Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge for an astonishing 15 years! This is by far the most reliable Red-billed Tropicbird in the United States, and we are planning this target tour with the hopes that the ol’ salty bird shows up for his 16th summer in the Gulf of Maine!

This short tour begins and ends in Bangor, Maine and involves a ferry trip over to Vinalhaven Island where we will then take a private charter out to Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge specifically to find and photograph the Red-billed Tropicbird! This small, rocky island is a large seabird colony that is an amazing place to visit regardless of the tropicbird – that’s just the icing on the cake! John Drury will captain us out to the island aboard his 36 foot Jarvins Newman fiberglass lobsterboat (aka SKUA). John knows these islands like the back of his hand, and has spent more time with the tropicbird than almost anyone else. His boat is perfectly suited to get us in close!

Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Black Guillemot, Razorbill, Great Cormorant, Arctic Tern, and Roseate Tern are likely to be seen around the seabird colony at Seal Island NWR. Keep an eye out for other regional specialties like Northern Gannet, Red-throated Loon, and Purple Sandpiper! Many Atlantic seaducks including Common Eider, King Eider, Harlequin Duck, ‘Atlantic’ Brant, all 3 scoters, and Long-tailed Duck are likely during the boat trips too! Shorebirds and migrant songbirds will be plentiful along the mainland! Marine mammals including ‘Atlantic’ Harbor Seal, Gray Seal, Harbor Porpoise, and Humpback Whale are possible too! Could this short trip pack any more awesome wildlife into one weekend!?

From the casual birder to the serious ABA lister, this exciting long-weekend trip to Maine is for everyone! This short trip begins on the final day of our annual 7-day MAINE: Mountains & Coast tour if you are looking to maximize your time spent exploring beautiful Maine!

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Length of Tour


Brief Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrival at Bangor Int. Airport (BGR) in Bangor, Maine. Ferry from Rockland to Vinalhaven Island. Night on Vinalhaven.

Day 2 – Private charter to Seal Island NWR. Birding around Vinalhaven. Night in Vinalhaven.

Day 3 – Ferry back to Rockland. Birding the coast of Maine. Night in Bangor.

Day 4 – Morning birding in Bangor as time allows. Departures from Bangor Int. Airport (BGR) in Bangor, Maine.

Detailed Itinerary

*Exact birding itinerary subject to change depending on current conditions

Day 1 – Arrival at Bangor Int. Airport (BGR) in Bangor, Maine. Ferry from Rockland to Vinalhaven Island. Night on Vinalhaven.

Please plan to arrive before noon to Bangor, Maine. We will then head south along the coast towards Rockland. As time allows we will make a few stops along the coast for birding, but our main goal is to take an afternoon ferry run by the Maine State Ferry Service to the island of Vinalhaven. We will spend the evening birding Vinalhaven, and enjoying seafood with a great view of the harbor. Night in Vinalhaven.

Day 2 – Private charter to Seal Island NWR. Birding around Vinalhaven. Night in Vinalhaven.

Captain John Drury will captain us out to Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge in search of the returning Red-billed Tropicbird. We will be cruising aboard John’s 36 foot lobsterboat named the ‘SKUA’. The entire back of this boat is wide open for plenty of space to observe and photograph birds as we motor around the islands. In addition to the celebrity tropicbird we will also be targeting Atlantic Puffins, Razorbill, Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, and Great Cormorant. Terns, shorebirds, and waterfowl should also put on a show! We will spend 4+ hours with John, then head back to Vinalhaven. Evening birding for migrant songbirds, and night in Vinalhaven.

Day 3 – Ferry back to Rockland. Birding the coast of Maine. Night in Bangor.

After catching an early trip back to the mainland, we will spend the day making a leisurely trip back up the coast towards Bangor. We plan to visit the Owls Head Lighthouse, Rockland harbor and breakwall, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport harbor, Belfast, and Sears Island in search of shorebirds, seabirds, and migrant songbirds at the peak of spring migration in Maine. Night in Bangor.

Day 4 – Morning birding in Bangor as time allows. Departures from Bangor Int. Airport (BGR) in Bangor, Maine.

Departures at any time from Bangor International Airport. Local birding in Bangor before flights out as time allows.


Cost is $1,250 per person, based upon double occupancy, from Bangor, Maine (Airport code BGR).
This trip ends in same as arrival city (Airport code BGR).

Cost Includes

Cost includes all ground transportation, accommodations, boat fees, and the services of your professional leader(s).

Cost does not Include

All meals, flights to/from destination city, trip insurance, or anything that is not specifically mentioned in the itinerary.

Minimum Number

If fewer than the minimum number of participants registered the trip can still run with a small-group supplement fee per person determined by the number of participants.

Single Supplement

If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to find a suitable roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $150 will be assessed.

Deposit Requirements

A $500 deposit per person is required to hold each space on this tour. Deposit may be made online by clicking the "Book Your Trip Now" button and using any credit card. If you prefer, you may call us at 888-875-9453 to pay by phone. You may also mail us a check, however, remember that all space is held on a first come-first served basis as deposits are received.

Minimum Number

If fewer than the minimum number of required participants are registered, we may still be able to run the trip by adding a small-group supplement fee, per person, determined by the number of participants registered.

How to Book

In order to hold your space, click the "Book Your Trip Now" button above and complete the deposit process, including payment of the deposit through our Paypal portal using ANY CREDIT CARD. Upon completion of deposit, please visit our secure, online CLIENT INFORMATION FORM to complete your registration.

Final Payment

For all land-based tours: full payment by check is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

For all boat-based adventure cruises of 7-days or longer: full payment by check is required 180 days prior to departure.

NOTE: If you prefer to use credit card for final payment, a 3% fee may be added to cover the credit card merchant fees we incur.

Three night’s accommodations in standard motels, all ensuite and comfortable. Wherever possible, we support local establishments that implement eco-friendly practices. Full-size, luxury SUVs will be used for this tour.

Activity Level Rating: (Note: 1 is easy and 5 is difficult)

This tour includes short walks, sometimes over uneven terrain. This tour involves a total of 3 boat trips, including one trip on a smaller lobsterboat on the open ocean. We expect calm, comfortable conditions but cannot make promises on behalf of the sea. If you are prone to seasickness, please prepare adequately. Ask us about tips and tricks!

Recommended Field Guide

Sibley Birds East  (2nd Edition, 2016, Knopf)
by David Allen Sibley

Sibley Birds is also available as an App


Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock

by Stephen Kress and Derrick Jackson

Purchasing Flights

Do not purchase your flights until the trip has been confirmed to go.

Detailed Trip Information

Upon notification that final payment is due (120 days prior to departure for land based tours / 180 days for boat based tours), you will receive a trip package of detailed information for your tour.

Any additional information about the trip, including lodgings, contacts, participants, meeting locations, etc., will sent about 2 weeks prior to the trip departure, or after final payment is received for late registrants.

Travel Insurance

As with all tours, we highly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance to cover your investment. Please see our section on Travel Insurance.

Passport & Visa

US Citizens may require a visa to enter certain foreign countries. See above for any required visa information.

Participants arriving to the USA from a foreign country may need to get a travel visa to enter the United States. Be sure to check the requirements for your country of origin.

Itinerary Changes

The trip itinerary is developed many months ahead of time. Occasionally, despite our best planning, changes may occur during the trip, or we may be forced to alter our plans. Changes may occur because of weather, road conditions, safety concerns or other circumstances. In these situations, it is the leader(s) responsibility to carefully consider and implement appropriate alternatives. Any additional costs incurred because of changes will be the responsibility of each individual participant. Refunds will not be issued as a result of itinerary changes.

This is a brand new tour, but please check back soon for a trip report!

Trip Reports/Species Lists:


Additional content:

Maine Attractions: Regulars and Rarities

What’s in a Name? Puffin puffinus

Every Auk Has Its Day

Location Map