Named for the Latin word for “swallow,” Hirundo was founded by Oliver Larouche in 1965. He grew up at his parents’ camp at what is now Hirundo with his brothers Roland, Virgil, Eddie, and Charles. The Larouches’ 3-acre camp lot was expanded to 2,400 acres courtesy of an endowment from Clare Wilcox Reed and Parker Reed.
Deeded the land in 1983, the University of Maine uses Hirundo is a living laboratory, where research and scientific study continue. The refuge is open to the public for year-round use.
Located off of Route 43 in Hudson, Hirundo is easy to access and is clearly marked with points of interest. Visitors entering through Gate 1 travel along a dirt road bordered by trees and swallow nest boxes and reach a parking area located at the head of the Wabanaki Trail and the Pushaw Trail.
Three more gates — 2, 3, and 6 — are located along Route 43; all are connected by a well-marked trail system.
Outhouses are located near the Gate 1 parking area and near the entrance to Gate 6.
In addition to trails, Hirundo contains a multitude of wildlife habitats and critters. While following the trails or taking the self-guided nature tour, a visitor might see:
• Marsh areas;
• River habitats;
• 26 species of trees;
• Vernal pools;
• Wood duck nest boxes on the Pushaw Stream and tree swallow nest boxes lining the road from Gate 1;
• A historic eel weir;
• An archaeological dig site;
• Memorials, including the Clare Reed Memorial (Gate 1) and the Twin’s Nest Memorial (Gate 2);
• Wildlife, including beavers, birds, turtles, frogs, spiders, and fish.
Naturalists are available to provide guided walking or canoe tours of Hirundo. Call ahead at (207) 827-2230 to make a reservation.
Directions: To get to Hirundo, take Interstate 95 to exit 197. Then drive west on Route 43 for 5 miles. Gate 1 is on the right. Gate 6 is across the road. Gates 2 and 3 are also along Route 43.
Hours: 9 a.m. to dusk, daily/
Cost: Free, but donations are encouraged.
Prohibited: Motorized vehicles, bicycles, pets, hunting, and trapping.
Parking: Available through Gates 1, 2, and 3.
Canoe rentals: Call Fred Bryant, Hirundo caretaker, at (207) 827-2230. The canoe pickup and launch area is at Gate 3. Canoes and kayaks can also be use at Lac D’or pond.
Maps: downloadable at www.hirundomaine.org or available at Gates 1-3 and 6.