Laurel Hill Cemetery in Saco is one of the best kept secrets for spring birding in York County. Bordering the Saco River, it has open river, tidal flats and marsh, deciduous and coniferous tracts, a small stream in a protected ravine, as well as fruiting trees in a more open grass tract. The combination of these habitats supports a diverse avian fauna, particularly during spring migration.
Starting early in spring, the river and tidal flats are used by a variety of ducks including Wood Duck, Common Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, and even Northern Pintail. Herons and shorebirds also feed here at low tide. In May of 2008 a Sandhill Crane visited the marsh.
Hawks and Bald Eagle often perch in the trees along the river and woodpeckers, including Pileated Woodpecker, can be found here. The pine trees by the mausoleum are one of the first places that Pine Warbler visit in early April and the field and shrubs by the daffodil hill are home to Swamp Sparrow. Early on May mornings, the trees near the daffodil hill can be covered with warblers if you are fortunate enough to experience a fallout. Then you can see twenty species of warbler, including usually hard to find Canada, Bay-breasted, Cape May, and Blackburian Warblers. Northern Waterthrush, Eastern Towhee, and White-throated Sparrow skulk in the ravine of the tiny stream.
The wooded tract between the two sections of the cemetery hosts Hermit Thrush and Least Flycatcher. The western section (closer to town) has fruit trees in an more open grass field that can attract Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings and Pine Grosbeaks in winter and very early spring.
With time and care, any number of surprises that might be found here. Check it out!
From the intersection of Main Street and North Street (Route 112), turn toward Camp Ellis (east). Continue on North Street for 0.7 mile and turn right into the cemetery. The first entrance will bring you to the fruit trees and open field while the second entrance will lead to the daffodil field by the river. The two sections are connected by a short road through a wooded section.