QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: 200 acres
- Trail Mileage: more than 4 miles in network
- Pets: yes
- Difficulty: easy to moderate
- Sights: injured owls, vultures, geese, hawks and other birds
The 200-acre Birdsacre preserve — home to rehabilitated owls, hawks, geese, and other birds, and to miles of winding trails with a lot of character — sits right next to the shopping mecca and crazy summer traffic of Ellsworth. The juxtaposition of these two worlds is surprising, as is being able to move from commercial sprawl to peaceful haven in just a few feet.
Several of the birds in the preserve have been hurt by run-ins with cars. Others were born with deformities. None of them are well enough to be released back into the wild. Because some birds, especially ones in captivity, can live many years, some of the residents are relatively ancient — 20, 30, even 40 years.
After turning into the sanctuary, which is also called Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary, from Route 3, you can walk the short, winding trails around the bird enclosures and duck ponds. There is a scruffy, DIY feel to the sanctuary, with hand-scrawled signs on wood reminding people to be quiet around the birds.
From the rehabilitation area and nature center/gift shop — where you can learn a bit more about the inspiration for Birdscare, pioneer ornithologist Cordelia Stanwood (1865-1968) — you can pick up one of the many trails in the preserve. There are more than four miles of trails, according to my GPS. I found it easy to get confused in the trail network, so make sure you grab a laminated map from the kiosk near the parking lot. You can make short or long loops (the longest loop is the 2-mile perimeter trail, although in the summer of 2019, new trails were being built). Quirky signs dot the trails, including ones informing you that you are anywhere from two to fifteen minutes from the next attraction or the parking area. Quotes by Cordelia Stanwood have also been posted.
For those in wheelchairs, there is a short but pretty boardwalk loop near the bird enclosures.
There is no fee to walk the trails, but donations are appreciated.
Directions: After Routes 3 and 1 split, the sanctuary will be on your right, after Ellsworth Car Wash and a small vet and across the street from Eagles Lodge Motel and a Prompto oil change place.