With spring in Maine comes the return of many wonderful natural sounds. Among them, the short, distinctive raspy clucks of the wood frog, which some characterize as sounding like the quacking of a duck. About two inches in size, the wood frog is typically tan or dark brown overall, with a white belly that may show dark mottling. They have a distinctive dark “mask” that extends to behind ear, a light stripe on the upper jaw, and a dark patch on the chest near the base of the front legs.
Maine's wildlife species include animals such as black bears, brook trout, the Common Loon, Canada Lynx, white-tailed deer, and of course, moose! Learn more about the wide array of animals living in our state's rivers, lakes, and forests through the Natural Resources Council of Maine's Creature Feature. Have a suggestion for a new creature to feature? Let us know!
The sea lamprey is native to Maine. Anything negative you may have heard about it is undoubtedly rumor that has drifted East from some other part of the country where the lamprey is not native and, as non-native introduced species tend to be, is considered a pest. Maine’s lamprey is one of nearly 50 species in rivers and coastal seas around the world.
Unlike most bird species, Bohemian Waxwings do not hold breeding territories, and in winter, they wander in search of large staples of fruits and berries. Typically, they breed from Alaska across northwestern Canada south to British Columbia, with a few breeding records from parts of the northwestern U.S.. But in winter, when their berry supplies become scarce, they wander south, and if we’re lucky, large flocks of these gorgeous birds appear in Maine.
The adult alewife is a sea-run fish about 12 inches long. Each spring, alewives leave the ocean, enter Maine’s coastal rivers, and make their way upstream to spawning habitat in lakes and ponds. Alewives are river herring, a term that also includes their close relatives the blueback herring and American shad.
The Bald Eagle, also known as the American eagle since it occurs only here, is especially noticeable in winter, when eagles from the North and West move to the coast, where the climate is milder and the coastal waters are free of ice. In the winter they roost and hunt in groups, feeding in open water along large tidal rivers of the Maine coast, or perched on frozen ice in search of discards from the fishing shacks.
NRCM’s Allison Wells and her young son happened upon the sea lamprey migration in the Sheepscot River, Coopers Mills, Maine, and captured this video. The sea lamprey is a native, parasitic fish that has a strange, disc-like mouth that it uses for feeding on the flesh of other fish. It also uses it to grasp Read More
The Atlantic salmon is an anadromous fish, which means it spends the majority of its lifetime in the ocean, but returns to spawn in the same freshwater river or stream where it was born. In Maine, salmon begin returning to their home rivers between March and November, with a peak migration during June and July. Unlike their Pacific cousins, Atlantic salmon do not die after spawning, and can return year after year to reproduce.
The empty shells scattered along the shallow edges of the Kennebec, Sebasticook, and Penobscot rivers are not clams, but the remains of freshwater mussels like the yellow lampmussel. The shells may have been left behind by an otter, muskrat, or raccoon after a meal. By serving as food for river mammals, filtering the water for their own food, and linking to fish populations, freshwater mussels play a unique role in river ecosystems.
The peregrine, once known as the “duck hawk,” is a large falcon, the male more than 16 inches tall and the larger female measuring up to about 20 inches, with a wingspan of up to 44 inches. One of the most widespread birds in the world, the peregrine is found on all continents, with the exception of Antarctica.