Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Wildlife

Mammals

Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has developed a summary table describing well-known mammals that make their home in the state.  To expand  that effective presentation, we have added some creatures to the table. Features Size Habitat Food Litter … Continue reading

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Merganser, Common

Common Mergansers on Giles Pond in Aurora

This duck is, in fact, common throughout Maine in the summer and year round within about 40 miles of the coast from York County to Hancock County.  Lakes are their preferred habitat. Long at 22-27 inches, the common merganser has … Continue reading

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Moose

A Moose in its Leafy Habitat in the Mahoosuc Range of Western Maine

Most text from Jennifer Vashon, Wildlife Biologist.  Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Images, video and supplemental text by Jim Henderson. Did You Know… ♦ A lactating cow has the highest nutritional requirements of any moose and eats over … Continue reading

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Mourning Doves

Mourning Dove (2013)

These pigeon-like birds visit home bird feeders, feasting mostly on seeds that drop to the ground. They remain year-round within about 40 miles of the coast. In summer they may be found in all but northern Piscataquis, Somerset and Aroostook … Continue reading

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Northern Shrike

Northern Shrike in Brewer (May, 2013)

A relatively shy and infrequently noticed bird in Maine, the northern shrike often perches atop a tree awaiting a food opportunity.  Unlike most songbirds, this one preys on small birds and rodents. This one, uncharacteristically, was in downtown Brewer near … Continue reading

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Nuthatches

White-breasted Nuthatch (2010)

are small, needle-nosed birds about the size of a chickadee, but more streamlined. Nuthatches come in two varieties in Maine: White-breasted (larger) and Red-breasted (smaller with a black eyeliner). They are frequent visitors to bird feeders, with, as expected, a … Continue reading

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Ospreys

Osprey Overlooking Harpswell Sound (2012)

The Osprey, or “fish hawk,” is a powerful large bird with a wingspan sometimes reaching six feet. Its threatening physical size and sharp talons contrast with its almost ridiculously timid “cheep, cheep” chirping voice. It can be found across the … Continue reading

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Rabbits

Map: Cottontail Rabbit and Snowshoe Hare Habitat

The New England cottontail rabbit was, in 2011, a candidate for federal listing as a threatened species. Less than 300 rabbits are believed to be in Maine, most in the south.  Threats include the loss of young forest and thickets … Continue reading

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Red Fox

The average weight of a male red fox is about 12 lbs; females are slightly smaller. They become sexually mature at 10 to 11 months. They breed annually from December through March. The average litter, born during March and early … Continue reading

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Red-tailed Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawk in a Tree on the Lunksoos Camps Road in the Maine woods (2014)

Red-tailed hawk, near the East Branch of the Penobscot River in the Maine woods Lunksoos area and near a logging yard in Crystal Continue reading

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Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird in Newcastle (2008)

is a bird that inhabits marshes, swamps, meadows and pastures throughout the United States and throughout the state of Maine. The male is easily identified by its bright red “shoulder patches.”  The female and the young are streaked with brown, … Continue reading

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River Otter

River otters are water-adapted mammals, with long, streamlined bodies, short legs, webbed toes, and long, tapered tails. Their short, thick fur is a rich brown above, and lighter, with a silvery sheen, below. Adult males average four feet in length, … Continue reading

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Robins

Robin on a Lawn in Spring (2010)

The American Robin is the “sign of spring” for Mainers, when we first notice Robin Redbreast after a long absence. But in southern areas of the state these birds often resist the urge to join their northern cousins who head … Continue reading

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Ruby-throated Hummingbird

This is the smallest bird in Maine.  Amazngly, this tiny, energy-burning bird migrates thousands of miles each year between Maine and the southern United States, Mexico and Central America. In southern Maine it appears in early summer for a brief … Continue reading

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Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse or Partridge

Physical Characteristics Ruffed grouse (or “Partridge”) are the most widely distributed game birds in North America. They rank among the smaller of the 10 species of grouse native to North America with weights ranging from 17 to 25 oz. The … Continue reading

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Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Crane in Sherman (2015)

Sandhill Cranes are very large, tall birds with a long neck reaching four feet tall.  They have long legs and broad wings. The cranes are mostly found in the Midwest but since the year 2000 they have been seen in … Continue reading

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Semipalmated Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper (2014)

This bird is one of several sandpipers in Maine.  The Semipalmated Sandpiper, described as perhaps one of the most numerous shorebirds in North America, is not a permanent resident, but is does migrate through the state. Those featured here passed … Continue reading

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Sparrows

Chipping Sparrow (2010)

Several species of sparrows abound in Maine’s collection of birds.  They include the Chipping, Song, and White-throated sparrows. All are between 5 and 7 inches long. In an unusual twist, the female and male sparrows noted here have the same … Continue reading

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Species, Endangered and Threatened

Eagles Nest Distribution 2008

Since European settlement, at least 14 species of wildlife are known to have been completely eliminated from the Maine environment. To prevent further losses, the Maine Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1975. In 1986, Maine’s first list of 23 … Continue reading

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Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow at the Viles Arboretum (2002)

remains in Maine, along the coast, near freshwater ponds, and in agricultural fields, during the summer.  Thereafter, as with many other birds, it migrates to to southern coastal states, Mexico and Central America. This one apparently decided to take up … Continue reading

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