Acadia National Park is home to diverse ecosystems that straddle the boundary between deciduous and coniferous forests. Its forests, wetlands, mountains and shorelines boast a broad variety of plant and animal life, but there are a few critters that visitors make a point of seeking out.
With some 338 bird species, Acadia National Park is a boon for birdwatchers and one of the top ornithological destinations in the United States. Acadia played an important role in the miraculous, worldwide comeback of the peregrine falcon, a species that faced extinction in the 1960s due to pesticide contamination of its food chain. Reintroduced to Acadia in 1984, the raptors have become an increasingly common site in the park, where falcons have established a seasonal breeding presence on an east-facing cliff of Champlain Mountain since 1991. Human fans of the falcon have made a yearly habit of their own — counting the daily occurrence of these and other raptors in the park.
The waters of Acadia National Park are cold, rarely exceeding 55 degrees at the height of summer. While it might take a particularly brave or impervious person to take a plunge at Sand Beach, those temperatures are ideal for whales. Humpback, finback and Minke whales can be spotted during sightseeing cruises of Maine’s coastal waters that depart from Bar Harbor.
If you’re searching for one of Acadia’s most beloved ecosystems, you need look no further than the nearest tide pool. Home to a plethora of sea creatures, from starfish and sea urchins to whelks and crabs, these intertidal habitats fascinate beachcombers. Ranger-led tide pool tours are a great way to get acquainted with them, but if you choose to explore by yourself, take these tips into consideration.
While some folks might take exception to bugs, the luna moth is no ordinary insect. These graceful little guys, which belong to the family of giant silkworm moths — so called for their size, and for the silky cocoons that they weave as pupae — are most active during warm summer nights, when they can be spotted fluttering near bright lights. With wingspans that can reach 4.5 inches in length, they’re hard to miss, but a luna moth’s true beauty can only be appreciated while it’s at rest. The moth’s lime-green coloring, tapering hindwings and eyespots give it an other-worldly appearance. Although they’re considered common, the moths have a lifespan of one week. So if you see one, consider yourself lucky.