From protecting their long-eared bats to porcupines and rare birds of prey, Acadia National Park offers some of the most beautiful, diverse wildlife in America’s national parks.
Did you know Acadia National Park is one of the world’s premiere birding destinations? Or that it’s home to some of the most in-depth bat research on the planet? Indeed, Maine’s stunning coastal national park is full of surprises. Take the peregrine falcon, for example: the fastest animal on the planet that’s back from the brink of extinction thanks (in part) to the work of Acadia National Park:
Alongside peregrine falcons, dozens of other raptor species make Acadia their home at times during the year. This, coupled with the record-number of songbird, waterfowl, and other bird species sightings in the park make Acadia a premiere destination for birdwatchers. So be sure to bring your binoculars and/or telephoto lens!
Acadia is also home to around 40 species of mammals – which includes the unique porcupineWhile megafauna such as moose and black bears are incredibly rare in the park, this ecosystem flourishes with bats, beavers, red foxes, snowshoe hares, and many more. And this is to say nothing of the incredible marine wildlife off Maine’s shore.
Like all wildlife, however, some are easier to spot than others. So first, let’s highlight the animals you’re most likely to spot in Acadia National Park. Then, we’ll move on to the more rare carnivores and megafauna, and how to ensure a safe visit alongside them.
Wildlife to Spot: Acadia National Park
- Birdwatching: A record of 338 bird species have been encountered in Acadia National Park, making it one of the premier bird-watching areas in the world. Rare raptors like falcons, owls and eagles call the park home alongside water-based birds like loons, ducks, and shorebirds, and landlocked woodpeckers, songbirds, and warblers.
- Acadia’s Bats: “Bats may only be seen at night in Acadia, but they shine a light on the many challenges animals face due to environmental threats such as climate change,” the park states. “Bats in Acadia National Park have declined over 80% and are a major focus of park research activities.
- Beavers make incredible impacts on the Acadia land and waterscapes as they transform the environments they inhabit. Keep an eye out for these busy-builders and their impressive dams within the park.
- North American Porcupines are also a rare treat in Acadia National Park. But be sure to give them plenty of space and never approach – their massive quills are no joke!
- Marine Wildlife: Scouting rocks, tidepools, and salt water marshes reveals snails and mussels clinging to the rocks and burrowing in the mud. Crabs, lobster and other crustaceans seek shelter on the ocean floor. Deeper in the ocean, marine mammals such as seals, whales, and porpoises join fish such as sunfish and can wow visitors on the open sea during boat tours.
Birdwatching: Falcons, Eagles, and Owls, Oh My!
The taxonomic diversity of Acadia National Park’s birds surpasses all other wildlife in the park. Some of the most common groupings you’ll be able to spot are:
- Songbirds and Woodpeckers | Small forest birds like warblers, vireos, chickadees, and thrushes
- Birds of Prey | Bald eagles, osprey, vultures, hawks, barred owls, peregrine falcons, and more
- Shorebirds | Sandpipers, plovers, gulls, terns, guillemots, cormorants, eiders, herons, and more
- Waterfowl | Loons and freshwater duck species like mallards and mergansers
Acadia National Park’s Bats
Bats – like the park’s small-footed bats and long-eared bats – are incredibly important to Acadia National Park, as they are to any ecosystem they inhabit. These flying mammals (adorable up close) get a bad wrap from most. But they remain extremely important around the world – and especially in Acadia National Park!
Mammals of Acadia: Beavers, Minks, Porcupines, and More!
Many of America’s “common” mammals are found in abundance in Acadia. White-tailed deer, opossums, raccoons, skunks, and more are abundant throughout Acadia’s forests.
It’s North America’s largest rodents, however, that take the spotlight in Acadia National Park. According to Acadia, the remarkable dam-building North American beavers are “routinely found in the park in sustainable numbers. Beaver dams and lodges are a regular sight for those who visit many of the freshwater lakes in Acadia National Park. They are most often out around dawn or dusk.”
Beavers were not always at Acadia, however. “George Dorr, the park’s first superintendent, believed it was important to bring this species back to an area that was historically theirs. The story of beavers on Mount Desert Island is a long history of reintroduction, relocation, and management. Acadia continues to manage and seek ways to maintain a peaceful coexistence between beaver and humans,” the park cites.
The second-largest rodent on the continent, the North American Porcupine, is another Maine/Acadia staple. Known for their defensive quills, porcupines should always be treated with caution and viewed from a safe distance.
Keep an eye out for the adorable minks of Acadia, too; rarely-spotted but populous little mammals that make for excellent photo-ops:
Marine Wildlife of Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park’s rocky shoreline is a stunning landscape where land and sea meet. Along the seashore, crashing waves, crawling crustaceans, curious seals, and an array of marine wildlife live together in a diverse, incredible ecosystem.
Most popular for Acadia visitors, however, are Maine’s marine mammals. Seals are common along the state’s shores, with gray and harbor seals being the most common.
A member of the whale family, harbor porpoises are also present. It is rare and unlikely. however, to see a whale in the bay or from shore, the park cites. These larger creatures are much further out in the ocean, making whale watching tours and excursions your best bet for spotting them.
Safety: Megafauna, Carnivores are Rare Sights in Acadia
Whenever viewing wildlife, Acadia asks that visitors “Please give the animals the space they need! Stay on the trail; stepping off trail to get a closer view can disrupt wildlife and can cause damage to the fragile ecosystems in the park. Don’t feed animals; feeding wildlife can habituate them to human presence and hurt their chances of survival.”
As for carnivores, these predators and scavengers are a “seldom seen” group of wildlife in the park. Like all ecosystems, Acadia’s carnivores play an important role in the park, however.
“With discerning eyes, signs of red foxes and coyotes are found around the park. Raccoons also reside in Acadia, and provide a great reason to store your food properly at campgrounds. Striped-skunks are a nocturnal species, and are more likely to be seen at night along the carriage roads,” Acadia cites.
In addition, more secretive animals like bobcats, otters, mink, fishers and pine martens also live in the park. Keep a sharp eye out for movement to spot these park residents in more remote areas.
Bear and Moose Safety in Acadia
As for megafauna, black bears are an incredibly rare sight in Acadia National Park. There is, however, a permanent year round population on Mount Desert Island. With a connection to the mainland, the Schoodic Peninsula area of the park has more frequent sightings of these secretive creatures.
For how to stay BearWise in any national park where black bears live, please see our National Parks Journal: How to Be BearWise with Great Smoky Mountains’ Lead Wildlife Biologist next.
Moose, too, are a truly rare sight in Acadia. These very large mammals need a great deal of space, and the ecosystems of Acadia don’t fit their needs. On the odd occasion you spot a moose in the park, however, be sure to give these giants as much room as possible. Never approach a moose, as dozens of North Americans are severely injured by the species every year.