Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Bar Harbor, Maine
With 273 species of birds seen around Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park is truly a good place to look for them. This is due in part to the meeting of northern and southern forest types, along with open ocean, sheltered bays, and freshwater marshes and ponds. The distribution of individual birds, however, changes with the time of day, the season , and the year. Seeing certain species may take a lot of patience and persistence, and being in the right place at the right time. To find birds, spend time in the preferred habitat of the species you are looking for, noted in this checklist or in field guides, and follow the tips below.
Bald Eagles and Ospreys nest on many off-shore islands around Mount Desert Island. They may be seen near any body of water, especially on nature cruises. Look for them on top of trees, on rocky islands, or flying overhead. Give a wide berth to any eagle nests and do not land on an island with an active nest.
Common Loons breed on many freshwater lakes and ponds. They may be heard calling on Echo Lake, Eagle Lake, Bubble Pond, Jordan Pond, and Long Pond. Loons move into saltwater bays for the winter.
Acadia is at the southern edge of the distribution of many northern species, such as Boreal Chickadees, Gray Jays, Red and White-winged Crossbills, Spruce Grouse, and Black-backed Woodpeckers. They may be rare or absent, however, in any given year. Spruce forests, especially on the west side of the island, such as at Wonderland or Ship Harbor, are the best places to look.
Atlantic Puffins are birds of the open ocean, rarely seen at Acadia National Park. They nest on nearby Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge and can be seen during various commercial boat trips.
Peregrine Falcons nest on some of the park's cliffs between late March and early August, and adults may by present into December. The Precipice Trail parking lot is a good vantage point from which to look for these falcons. Park staff may be there with spotting scopes to help you see them. Help protect these falcons by honoring posted trail closures.
In the fall: watch for migrating falcons, hawks, and other birds of prey from any mountain in the park, especially when the winds blow from a northerly direction. Mixed flocks of migrating warblers and other songbirds are often heralded by the calls of chickadees and may be encountered along the south end of the island and by bodies of water.
In the winter: seabirds, like Oldsquaws, Common Eiders, and Red-necked Grebes, are the easiest birds to see in the coldest months. Look for them along Ocean Drive, around Bar Island, or in any sheltered bay. Northern Shrikes, Great Gray Owls, and Northern Hawk Owls are sometimes found in open areas like Great Meadow and Beech Mountain.
Please stay on trails or bare rock when looking at birds and respect the rights of private property owners neighboring the park. Ask at the Nature Center or visitor center where there may be more up to date information on bird sightings.
National Park Service. 1997. Acadia National Park official map and guide. National Park Service. Unpaginated.This resource should be cited as:
National Park Service. 1997. Acadia National Park official map and guide. National Park Service. Unpaginated. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online. http://www.npwrc.usgs.govacadia.htm (Version 22MAY98).