August 2017

Vol. 45, No. 4

Summer Birding along Realty Road, Aroostook County, Maine

Nicholas Komar

Editor’s Note: Where was Bird Observer birding 30 years ago? In August 1987, Nicholas Komar wrote an article about finding birds in Aroostook County, Maine, reprinted below, from Volume 14, Number 4, August 1987, pp. 164–170. Before you decide to explore Realty Road, please visit the North Maine Woods, Inc. website at for current information about rules and regulations, fees, road conditions, and changes that have occurred over the last 30 years. For example, the day use fee in 2017 is $10.00, no longer $2.00.

The American Realty Tote Road in Aroostook County, Maine, is a private logging road that provides an excellent opportunity to bird the vast wild lands of the North Maine Woods region. This region is rich in birdlife and other wildlife and offers the chance to see northern “specialty” birds such as Winter Wren, Gray Jay, Common Raven, Boreal Chickadee, Evening and Pine grosbeaks, crossbills, Three-toed and Black-backed woodpeckers, and others during the breeding season. Even Boreal Owl has been seen along this road. The relative abundance of Black-backed Woodpecker is especially welcomed by birders.

Realty Road, known locally as the “Reality Road,” is open to the public for recreational purposes. A fee of $2.00 per person is charged for the day or $4.50 per person per day if you are camping at one of the many campsites along the road. The road is operated by the North Maine Woods Association, an organization of private (mostly paper companies) and public owners (the state of Maine) of the uninhabited spruce-fir forests of northern Maine.

To reach the road, from I-95 in East Millinocket, take Route 11 north to Ashland. Follow Route 11 through the town, and turn left just after you cross the Aroostook River. When the paved road bears left just past the Gateway Variety Store, go straight onto a dirt road. A sign there states that you are entering North Maine Woods and that trucks have the right of way on this road. This caution must be taken very seriously.This is Realty Road.

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