Wildlife and Bird Watching

Discover unspoiled nature at its best as you spot birds, whales, and moose—to name a few.
Puffin Watch in DownEast Acadia
Spot a puffin on a nature cruise.

Everywhere you look there’s curious wildlife and birds in DownEast Acadia. Wonder at a wide variety of sea life on a Whale Watch or while kayaking the bay. Learn about the life cycle of the local salmon and trout at one of several hatcheries. Don’t be surprised by deer, squirrel, chipmunks, or maybe even a Moose that ambles into your inland campsite. 

Whale Watch
Take a whale watch from several ports in DownEast Acadia
Moose aren't easy to spot.
Moose aren't easy to spot.

On land or on the ocean

Head out to the bays and Gulf of Maine, where playful harbor porpoise pops their heads above the surface. Spot harbor seals sunning on ledges alongside cormorants and gulls. A trip to the outer islands reveals the summer home of the iconic Atlantic puffin. Explore ocean ecology at the Downeast Institute in Beals or visit the Discovery Wharf at the Center for Coastal Fisheries in Stonington to get a hands-on look at the world below the waves. 

Onshore you’ll spot harlequin ducks making their way across harbors, herons swoop over marshes, osprey, and bald eagle hunt overhead. As part of the Atlantic Flyway, you’ll find myriad birds in Roque Bluffs State Park or the Maine Coastal Islands Wildlife Refuge.


Watch closely as you drive along roads for deer or moose, especially The Airline, Route 9. The Downeast Lakes Community Forest, Downeast Lakes Water Trail, and Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge offer excellent habitats for wildlife like black bears, bobcat, and beavers. Please never feed any wildlife and give them plenty of space to go about their business. 

Learn about the miraculous life cycle of sea-run Atlantic salmon at the Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery in Orland. Grand Lake Stream State Fish Hatchery rears 80,000 landlocked salmon and brook trout annually. Visit The Green Lake National Fish Hatchery in Ellsworth, for a look at a large-scale cold water hatchery in action.

in Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park offers numerous opportunities for wildlife viewing—from narrated whale watching excursions that take you straight to these amazing marine mammals’ feeding grounds to serendipitous sightings of bald eagles landing atop a local pier.

Bird watchers will be delighted to view at a distance (bring binoculars!) the nesting site chosen by a peregrine falcons group within Acadia National Park many years ago. Once near extinction, falcons are rebounding. The sight of newborn chicks in the nest each spring is celebrated by locals and visitors alike.

Stroll the park’s many trails surrounded by the music of songbirds. The park is home to as many as 23 species of warbler alone. Herons, sandpipers, and harlequin ducks are all easy to find in and near the water. Once a rare sight, Bald Eagles are common throughout the park.

The kids will love poking around the tidal pools to find amazing little creatures like whelks, sea stars, crabs, urchins, mussels, periwinkles, and barnacles. The park’s forests offer a chance to spy salamanders, frogs, and toads, raccoons, skunks, otters, foxes, deer, and even the occasional moose among larger animals. Out on the water, you’ll spot plenty of dolphins swimming by your boat and seals poking their head above the surface or sunning on ledges out on the water.

Tide pooling off Seawall
Tide pooling off Seawall
Maine Loon
Listen for the cry of the Maine Loon

Downeast Acadia Birding Trail

Birding enthusiasts will find plenty to love along the DownEast Acadia Birding Trail, which includes the lands of Acadia National Park, national wildlife refuges, public reserved lands, and state parks.

Maine is one of North America’s top birding destinations, and the DownEast Acadia is the furthermost extreme of many migratory species’ range. You’ll hear song of lonesome loon, spy the elusive spruce grouse, and thrill to the majestic flight of hawks and eagles. 

 On Blue Hill Mountain, migrating raptors glide in from across the bay. The Wildlands in Orland is a 4,300-acre preserve that welcomes multiple uses and has an extensive viewshed. The Great Wass Island Preserve, the Cutler unit of the Bold Coast Trails, the South Lubec sandbar, the Edmunds and Baring divisions of the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, and the Downeast Lakes Land Trust in interior Washington County will all have you tallying birds on your life list!

True Maine Birding Festivals

Wings, Waves & Woods Birding Festival
Held annually in May, provides islanders and visitors the opportunity to pick and choose from numerous birding and art activities or take time to explore.

Weekend guided walks led by experienced and active birders. Boat tours offered for an up-close look at seabirds, as well as seals and porpoises. Welcome packets, including bird lists, nature preserve information, maps, an Island Guide, and other helpful information, are available at Island Heritage Trust.

Annual Down East Spring Birding Festival
This festival provides a unique birding experience during spring migration and the breeding season with four days of guided hikes, boat tours, and presentations, all led by local guides with local knowledge. The Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife has named the Down East Spring Birding Festival one of the best in the country, and Yankee Magazine listed it as an Editor’s Choice event in 2014.

Acadia Birding Festival
Explore Mount Desert Island and its birds through numerous events and venues. Greet our warblers on early morning birding walks, visit puffins and pelagic birds at sea, and observe Peregrine Falcons at an active breeding site in Acadia National Park. Our combination of lectures, walks, and adventures will connect you to Downeast Maine’s many bird species, diverse habitats, and local birding experts

Bird watching is very popular in DownEast Acadia
Bird watching is very popular in DownEast Acadia
Piping plover
Piping plovers are protected all along the East Coast.

Planning Tools

To help you plan your trip we provide  information on drive time and distances to and around the region. Plus info on other commercial transportation options.

Once you arrive in DownEast Acadia, you will want to access local sources of visitor information, state laws, recreation rules, and road conditions.

To help you pack or plan your day, check out the current weather in the region or learn about year-round averages of temperature and precipitation.

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