What kinds of birds can you find in Acadia National Park?
This question is hard to answer because of the vast number of birds found in the park. Did you know there have been over 250 species recorded here? As you can imagine, there was no way to include this many birds in the below article. So instead, I tried to focus on the birds that are most regularly seen and observed.
Below I have listed the TEN birds you are most likely to find while visiting Acadia National Park.
#1. Herring Gull
- Larus argentatus
- Adults range from 22.1 to 26.0 inches in length and have a 53.9 to 57.5-inch wingspan.
- Breeding adults have light gray backs, white heads, white undersides, and black wingtips and may have dusky marks on their heads during the winter.
- They have yellow eyes, dull pink legs, hefty bills, and barrel chests.
Herring Gulls are the familiar, quintessential “sea-gull” in Acadia National Park. They occupy farmland, coasts, bays, beaches, lakes, piers, and landfills. They’re most abundant on the coast and surrounding large lakes and river systems.
If you spend time at the beach, you’ve probably noticed Herring Gulls waiting for you to drop your snack! In addition to popcorn and chips from humans, they consume fish, crustaceans, mollusks, sea urchins, marine worms, smaller birds, eggs, carrion, and insects.
Herring Gulls will stop at nothing to get a meal! They’ve been observed preying on fish driven to the surface by feeding whales. They also will take hard-shelled items such as crabs and mollusks high into the air and drop them onto rocks to break them open.
The population of Herring Gulls declined steeply during the 19th century because of over-hunting. While their range and population recovered during the 20th century, overfishing, oil spills, and pesticide contamination have reduced some populations.
#2. Dark-eyed Junco
- Junco hyemalis
- Smooth and soft-looking slate gray with a white belly.
- Small pale bill, long tail with white outer feathers.
- Dark-eyed Juncos have various color patterns depending on the region.
Dark-eyed Juncos are one of the most common birds in Acadia National Park. You can easily identify these birds by how smooth their feathers look. Or look for a white flash from their tail feathers as they are flying away.
Dark-eyed Junco Range Map
This species is found in pine and mixed-coniferous forests when they breed, but in winter, they are seen in fields, parks, woodlands, and backyards.
Males sing a two-second loud musical trilling song that can carry hundreds of feet away. In addition, both sexes also sing softer songs that are a mixture of warbles, trills, and whistles.
#3. Common Eider
- Somateria mollissima
- Males have a distinctive color pattern: most of their bodies are white, with black on the top of the head and rump. In addition, they have a wash of pale green on the nape of the neck.
- Females are mottled browns, with the same wedge-shaped beak as males.
The Common Eider is a unique-looking duck in Acadia National Park!
It can weigh up to 3.04 kg (6 lb 11 oz) and grow as long as 71 cm (28 in). In addition to its gigantic size and bulky build, you can recognize this species by its distinctive, wedge-shaped bill.
Common Eiders nest in huge colonies on coastal islands. Up to 15,000 birds will flock together in a single location to raise their young! They frequently form creches, groups of breeding mothers taking care of their ducklings as a group.
In these groups, the mothers incubate their own eggs and spend the first few weeks taking care of them alone. Then, once the ducklings leave the nest, a group of females (including the mother) teaches them to find food, avoid predators, and swim. Just like humans, these ducks know it takes a village to raise kids!
#4. Song Sparrow
- Chest has brown streaks that converge onto a central breast spot.
- Head has a brown crown with a grey stripe down the middle. Also, look for a grey eyebrow and cheek.
- Back and body are mostly rust-brown with gray streaks throughout.
Sparrows can be incredibly difficult to identify, due to how many types of sparrows there are and the fact they look very similar. But luckily, Song Sparrows are one of the easier sparrow species to determine correctly.
Song Sparrow Range Map
These birds are common in Acadia National Park, especially in wet, shrubby, and open areas.
Unlike other birds that nest in trees, Song Sparrows primarily nest in weeds and grasses. Many times you will find them nesting directly on the ground.
My favorite feature of Song Sparrows is their beautiful songs that can be heard across the continent. The typical one, which you can listen to below, consists of three short notes followed by a pretty trill. The song varies depending on location and the individual bird.
#5. Double-crested Cormorant
- Gangly water birds with a long tail and neck.
- Completely black except for yellow-orange skin around the base of the bill.
- Long, hooked bill. Eyes are a pretty turquoise color.
Double-crested Cormorants are incredibly unique looking, with many people thinking they appear to be a cross between a loon and goose. These expert divers eat almost exclusively fish, which they catch underwater with their perfectly adapted hooked bill.
Double-crested Cormorant Range Map
One of the BEST ways to find these water birds in Acadia National Park is to look for them on land with their wings spread out. Double-crested Cormorants don’t have waterproof feathers, so after swimming, they have to dry them.
Large colonies of these birds tend to gather in trees near water, where they all build their nests in a small cluster of trees. Unfortunately, there can be so many birds so close together that their poop, I mean guano, ends up killing the trees!
Double-crested Cormorants emit unique deep guttural grunts, which I think sound more like a large walrus than a bird. Listen below!
#6. Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadees are one of the most beloved birds in Acadia National Park, and it’s easy to see why! These birds are often described as “cute,” as they are tiny, with an oversized head that features a black cap and bib.
Naturally, look for them in open deciduous forests, thickets, and cottonwood groves. They also adapt easily to the presence of people and are common to near human development.
Black-capped Chickadee Range Map
Try identifying Black-capped Chickadees by their sounds!
These birds are extremely vocal, and you should have no problem hearing one. And luckily, their vocalizations are unique and relatively easy to identify. Listen below to a song that is a simple 2 or 3 note whistle, which sounds like it’s saying “fee-bee” or “hey sweetie.”
Black-capped Chickadees also make a distinctive “chickadee-dee-dee” call. And yes, it actually sounds like they are saying their name! Interestingly, they add more “dee” notes onto the end of the call when alarmed.
#7. Red-breasted Nuthatch
- Sitta canadensis
Red-breasted Nuthatches are active little songbirds in Acadia National Park that have beautiful coloring. Look for compact birds that have almost no neck and a very short tail.
Red-breasted Nuthatch Range Map
Red-breasted Nuthatches are mostly found in coniferous forests. Their preferred habitat contrasts sharply to White-breasted Nuthatches, who prefer living in deciduous forests.
Have you ever heard a tin horn while in the woods?
If so, you were probably listening to a Red-breasted Nuthatch! These birds make a fast series of nasally “yank-yank-yank” sounds, which have been compared to the sound that a toy tin horn makes. These calls are typically made by males that are still looking for a mate.
#8. Black-Throated Green Warbler
- Setophaga virens
- Adults are 4.3 to 4.7 inches long and weigh 8 to 11 grams.
- They are olive-green on the head and back, black and white below and on the wings, and a yellow mask on the face.
Black-throated Green Warblers are beautiful birds. They aren’t picky about their habitat and will nest in coniferous, deciduous, or mixed forests.
Black-Throated Green Warblers are prolific and loud vocalists! They often sing throughout the day during the mating season. One individual who was recorded for an hour even managed to sing his mating song 466 times in a row! It sounds similar to “hee-hee-hee-hee-HA-hee.”
#9. Common Yellowthroat
- Geothlypis trichas
- Adults are 4.3 to 5.1 inches long and weigh an average of 8.5 grams.
- Males and females have distinctly different coloring; although both sexes are yellow and gray, males have a black mask on the eyes that sets them apart.
One look at a male Common Yellowthroat will tell you why this species is also called the “Yellow Bandit”! The males’ distinctive black eye markings set it apart from other birds in Acadia National Park.
Like most warblers, Common Yellowthroats migrate at night during the fall. Nighttime migration helps warblers avoid predators and poor weather conditions like excessive heat and wind.
An advantage for bird enthusiasts is that these species are much easier to spot during migration while resting during the day! With a bit of patience, you might also catch a flock in migration at night, visible against a full moon.
Common Yellowthroats have a distinctive song that’s easy to recognize. Listen for “witchety-witchety-witchety” repeated up to 300 times an hour!
#10. Common Loon
- Long bodies with a strong, thick dagger-like bill. They sit low in the water.
- Breeding adults have a black head and a black and white checkerboard back.
- Nonbreeding adults are much duller and have a uniformly grayish back and head.
Common Loons are one of my FAVORITE water birds found in Acadia National Park.
These gorgeous birds are insanely strong and fast swimmers and routinely catch fish in high-speed underwater chases. In fact, they have even adapted solid bones (most bird bones are hollow), which makes it easier to dive since they are less buoyant.
Common Loon Range Map
To help prevent other birds from stealing their food, Common Loons typically swallow their prize while still underwater. And to ensure the slippery fish doesn’t escape once caught, loons have rear-facing projections inside their mouth that sink in and provide a tight grip.
One of my favorite things about these birds is the wonderful, eerie sounds they make. Listen for a repertoire of vocalizations, which all signify something. LISTEN BELOW!
For example, their tremolo calls are used when alarmed. Yodeling is given by males to announce their territories. And their famous haunting wail calls help mated pairs locate each other.
Which of these birds have you seen before in Acadia National Park?
Leave a comment below!
To learn more about other birds that live in Acadia National Park, check out these guides!
The range maps above were generously shared with permission from The Birds of The World, published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I use their site OFTEN to learn new information about birds!