Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex

Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine.

The refuge's islands are as individual as finger prints. Some support spruce-fir forests. Others are treeless, covered by shrubs and grasses. Still others are mostly bedrock, with little vegetation. Some combine the three. The various habitat types appeal to a variety of bird species.

In addition to seabirds, refuge islands provide habitat for raptors, wading birds, shorebirds, and songbirds. Some of the forested islands, including Outer Heron, Little Marshall, Bois Bubert, and Mink, have active bald eagle nests. Outer White Island supports a black-crowned night heron rookery. Migrating peregrine falcons stop on rocky Seal Island to hunt seabirds and rest. Warblers such as the bay-breasted and blackpoll, and shorebirds, including ruddy turnstones and semi-palmated plovers, rely on the islands as stepping stones on their long trips north and south.


The refuge's four mainland properties are located in Hancock and Washington counties. Upland areas are characterized by spruce-fir forests with some mixed hardwoods. The 2,178-acre Petit Manan Point Division, in Steuben, also includes jack pine stands, coastal raised heath peatlands, blueberry barrens, old hayfields, fresh and saltwater marshes, cedar swamps, granite shores, and cobble beaches. The Gouldsboro Bay Division, in Gouldsboro, protects 635 acres, including mature upland forest and a large tidal saltmarsh and mudflat. The 1,150-acre Sawyer's Marsh Division lies at the head of a broad saltmarsh in Milbridge, just north of Petit Manan Point. The recently acquired 431 acre Corea Heath Division, in Gouldsboro, protects a large, raised, coastal peatland and several populations of rare plants

Neotropical migratory songbirds thrive in the forests of the mainland divisions. These birds breed in North America and winter in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America. Recently, populations of species such as the American redstart, Swainson's thrush, and song sparrow, have declined due to habitat loss throughout their migratory routes.

The saltmarshes and mudflats of the mainland divisions attract waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds. Black ducks, great blue herons, and American bitterns ply the waters of the saltmarshes. Semipalmated sandpipers, dowitchers, greater and lesser yellowlegs, and dunlins probe the mudflats for invertebrates.

During fall migration, 80-acre Cranberry Flowage on Petit Manan Point is filled with over 4,000 ducks. Black ducks, green-winged teal, and mallards rest and feed on wild rice in preparation for the long flight south. Long-tailed ducks, surf and white-winged scoters, common goldeneyes, and common eiders winter in coastal waters.

The former pastures and blueberry fields on Petit Manan Point provide nesting habitat for grassland birds such as bobolinks and savannah sparrows. In the spring, American woodcock use the clearings for their unique courtship displays. Whimbrels stop off here during their fall migration from the Arctic tundra to the southern United States. The Service maintains open areas through periodic mowing and controlled burning.


Nearby Activities


Because the refuge lands and islands are scattered along the whole Maine coast, the refuge has two offices. One is located in Milbridge, Maine, approximately 35 miles east of Ellsworth. The other office is located in Rockland, heading toward Owls Head. Office hours are Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Printed materials are available at both offices 24 hours a day.

The mainland divisions are located in Milbridge, Steuben, Corea and Gouldsboro. There are opportunities for bird watching, wildlife photography, and hiking on the Petit Manan Point Division, in Steuben as well as trails in Corea and Gouldsboro.

To reach the Milbridge office:

Follow U.S. Route 1 to the center of Milbridge. Turn onto Water Street at the Gulf station. The office is a large white building on your left.

To reach the Petit Manan Point Division:

Take Pigeon Hill Road off U.S. Route 1 in Steuben, and follow it to the end. The parking area for the Birch Point Trail is 5.8 miles from Route 1, and the parking area for the Hollingsworth Trail is 6.2 miles.

To reach the Rockland office and Visitor Center:

Follow U.S. Route 1 to the intersection with route 73 in downtown Rockland. Turn south on to route 73 for ј mile then turn left onto Water Street. The office is a large white building on your right.

Additional Information