All 12 Birds of Prey in Maine! (Species ID Guide) (2024)

All 12 Birds of Prey in Maine-template

Well-known for its wildlife, Maine has 292 species of birds that can be found statewide in various habitats. However, that bird soaring in the sky might be one of the birds of prey in Maine.

Many of these birds are shorebirds, meaning they undertake long migration journeys to reach Maine.

In contrast, others undertake seasonal movements and can only be found in the state during particular seasons.

If you’re looking to go on a trip for some birdwatching activity, there’s no better place to go than Maine!

The state’s deciduous, boreal, and coastal forests, along with its rocky coast, make it an ideal destination for birds of prey to establish their habitats in Maine.

Before you scroll further down this guide, check out these other animal-related articles: Best Bird Rescues in Maine and Best Cane Corso Breeders in Maine.

1. Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle Characteristics:

  • Scientific Name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
  • Length: 27.9-37.8 in (71-96 cm)
  • Weight: 105.8-222.2 oz (3000-6300 g)
  • Wingspan: 80.3 in (204 cm)

The Bald Eagle is a broad-bodied bird with a white head adorned by a golden nape, a white tail, and a dark brown body.

The national bird of the United States, this incredibly majestic bird has broad wings, a sharp yellow beak, and yellow legs.

Like most bird species, the female Bald Eagle is usually bigger than her male counterpart. The Bald Eagle’s favorite habitat is around water.

So, you will find the Bald Eagle around coasts, rivers, and lakes. Its choice of habitat is reflective of its favorite food – fish.

This gorgeous bird has a unique hunting style; it likes to attack its prey in a vice-like killing grip by gradually leaning towards its food and catching it with its powerful talons.

Along with being a great hunter, the Bald Eagle is a skillful flier known to glide, soar, and flap over long distances.

2. Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle Characteristics:

  • Scientific Name: Aquila chrysaetos
  • Length: 27.6-33.1 in (70-84 cm)
  • Weight: 105.8-216.1 oz (3000-6125 g)
  • Wingspan: 72.8-86.6 in (185-220 cm)

Although rare, the Golden Eagle is another raptor that has been spotted in the state of Maine.

One of the fastest and nimblest birds of prey, the Golden Eagle is a large bird with dark brown plumage and golden and cream-brown-like shades.

The Golden Eagle has a brown tail with a few pale bars in a wavy pattern and golden feathers on its head.

The Golden Eagle adores mountains, cliffs, and hills and prefers the open country over congested cities.

You can also find this rare raptor in grasslands, coniferous forests, and areas along streams and rivers.

The Golden Eagle is known to hunt by flying low to its prey and striking it with its talons either suddenly or with a slow pounce.

Golden Eagles are also excellent fliers; they usually fly alone and are known to glide or soar by lifting their wings into a “V” shape.

3. Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon Characteristics:

  • Scientific Name: Falco peregrinus
  • Length: 13-23 in (34-58cm)
  • Weight: 12 – 14 oz (330 – 400 g)
  • Wingspan: 33.1 – 44.9 in (79-114 cm)

The Peregrine Falcon is commonly found in Maine during the fall migration season.

This gorgeous bird has blue-gray wings, dark brown backs that usually appear black, and a light brownish underside with scattered brown spots.

Its face is white and has a black stripe on the cheek.

The Peregrine Falcon has a hooked beak and tapered, long wings with a short tail.

The Peregrine Falcon’s favorite habitat includes water bodies.

So, you are likely to find it along the coast. However, they can also be found in forests, mountain ranges, and cities nestling on building ledges.

This falcon’s favorite technique is to dive. Once it locates its prey, it folds its wings and falls into a nose dive quickly, using its feet to attack its food and knock it out of the sky.

The Peregrine Falcon has pointed wings that enable it to fly quickly. Furthermore, its large keel aids in powerful flaps, which affect speed.

Along with flapping, a Peregrine Falcon usually accelerates its speed by beating its wings.

4. American Kestrel

Peregrine Falcon Characteristics:

  • Scientific Name: Falco sparverius
  • Length: 8.7-12.2 in (22-31cm)
  • Weight: 3-6 oz (85-170 g)
  • Wingspan: 9-12 in (51-61 cm)

One of the most colorful birds in North America, the American Kestrel is undoubtedly the bird you don’t want to miss if you are birdwatching.

The American Kestrel is rare in Maine, but if you’re lucky, you may spot one!

This fascinating bird has gray-blue wings, an orange tail with a gorgeous pattern of black bars, and black spotting on its belly.

Its head is small with a gray crown. The American Kestrel inhabits open country, cities, wood edges, and farmlands. They can also be found in trees for perching or nesting.

The American Kestrel is also known to hunt for its prey by hovering in the air or analyzing an open area.

Once it locates its target, it plunges to catch, often on the ground, although it can also catch its prey in the air.

Similar to a few other raptors, they’re exceptionally well at hovering.

When flying, they can usually flap their wings vigorously and train their tail to stick in one spot while they locate their prey.

However, the American Kestrel is also known to glide.

5. Merlin


Merlin Characteristics:

  • Scientific Name: Falco columbarius
  • Length: 9.4-11.8 in (24-30 cm)
  • Weight: 5.6-8.5 oz (160-240 g)
  • Wingspan: 20.9-26.8 in (53-68 cm)

Another common falcon in Maine is the Merlin.

Once known as the “pigeon hawk,” the Merlin is a small bird with pointed wings, a broad body, and a tail that is relatively long and square-cut in shape.

The Merlin is dark-colored with streaks over its body.

Their color differs across gender; male Merlin birds are predominantly dark gray to granite gray, whereas females or nestlings tend to be slightly browner.

Their breast has heavy streaking on them, and the underwings are dark.

You will likely spot a Merlin in open country or coasts. However, they can also be found at roosts in reed beds, on heaths, and reed beds.

Regarding its hunting skills, the Merlin is known to catch its prey from a perch or by flying low over the ground.

Sometimes, it even indulges in a tail chase to get a hold of its prey.

Merlins are compact and fast fliers. Their wingbeats are frequent and powerful and more rapid than the Peregrine Falcon.

6. Gyrfalcon

Gyrfalcon Characteristics:

  • Scientific Name: Falco rusticolus
  • Length: 18.9-25.2 in (48-64 cm)
  • Weight: 28.2-74.1 oz (800-2100 g)
  • Wingspan: 48.4 in (123 cm)

The Gyrfalcon is the largest falcon in the bird kingdom. This fascinating bird can weigh up to 74 ounces!

It comes with three plumage color variations; white, gray, and black. However, gray birds are more common in Maine than the other morphs.

The Gyrfalcon have barring on the wings, tails, and backs with spotting on their underparts.

Their wings are pointed, a feature typical to most falcons, and a notched beak.

The Gyrfalcon’s preferred habitat includes coastlines, open fields, dunes, and mountains.

The Gyrfalcon uses a low but fast speed flying technique to get a hold of its prey.

They may fly a little higher up in the air before catching their prey, then dive down onto it. Gyrfalcons can catch their mark in the air, water bodies, or ground.

They use powerful wingbeats with occasional gliding similar to a Goshawk when flying.

7. Short-Eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl Characteristics:

  • Scientific Name: Asio flammeus
  • Length: 13.4-16.9 in (34-43 cm)
  • Weight: 7.3-16.8 oz (206-475 g)
  • Wingspan: 33.5-40.5 in (85-103 cm)

The Short-Eared Owl is next on our list of Maine’s 12 birds of prey.

You can spot these beautiful owls around the coastal areas in Maine during the winter season. You can also find it in open terrains, swamps, and prairies.

Bird watchers can spot a Short-Eared Owl by its pale facial disk surrounded by brown hair, mottled brown or tawny plumage, streaked breast, and barred tails and wings.

It has small ears or tufts of feathers sticking out on the forehead – they’re usually flattened but may pop out when the owl is defending itself against predators.

The Short-Eared Owl has sharp eyesight and hearing and uses these keen senses to hunt prey.

Unlike most owl species, Short-Eared Owls also hunt in the daytime, dusk, and dawn.

It flies low over the ground when hunting with light but vigorous wingbeats. You may mistake it for a giant moth due to its flying style during a hunting spree!

8. Northern Hawk Owl

Northern Hawk Characteristics:

  • Scientific Name: Asio flammeus
  • Length: 13.4-16.9 in (34-43 cm)
  • Weight: 7.3-16.8 oz (206-475 g)
  • Wingspan: 33.5-40.5 in (85-103 cm)

The Northern Hawk Owl is a bird that looks like an owl but behaves like a hawk. You can find it in Maine in the winter, from November to March.

The Northern Hawk Owl has a white face with a black border, curved beak, flat head, and brown horizontal stripes on its underparts.

Its legs are feathered down to its talons. Moreover, it has yellow eyes, a yellow beak, and a tapered, long tail similar to a hawk’s.

The Northern Hawk Owl can be found in boreal forests, muskegs, meadows, swamp valleys, and barren lands.

Moreover, this agile owl hunts during the night and day.

It analyzes and listens to its prey from high perches before swooping to catch it. It may even hover or soar after its prey.

With its long tail, its flying technique consists of a speedy and skillful mix of gliding and flapping.

9. Long-Eared Owl

Long-eared Owl

Long-Eared Owl Characteristics:

  • Scientific Name: Asio otus
  • Length: 13.8-15.8 in (35-40 cm)
  • Weight: 7.8-15.3 oz (220-435 g)
  • Wingspan: 35.4-39.4 in (90-100 cm)

The Long-Eared Owl is typically found in Maine year-round, but you can usually see these birds in the northern parts of Maine during the migration season.

With orange and buff colored faces, the Long-Eared Owl is easy to identify by the detailed black, brown, and buff pattern on its feathers.

Moreover, the striking orange eyes and white eyebrows are another distinctive feature.

The Long-Eared Owl’s preferred habitat includes open country for hunting and dense trees in mixed and coniferous woodlands for roosting and nesting.

This raptor uses its excellent eyesight and hearing abilities to locate its prey. It catches most animals on the ground or in areas with less vegetation.

You will mostly find this bird hanging around open rangeland, clearings, and fallow fields, areas with abundant game.

The Long-Eared Owl is a skillful flier; it glides in silence even when its wings are flapping. Its adept flying ability enables it to fly through dense brushes quite easily.

10. Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl Characteristics:

  • Scientific Name: Asio otus
  • Length: 7.5-9.8 in (19-25 cm)
  • Weight: 5.3 oz (150 g)
  • Wingspan: 21.6 in (55 cm)

The Burrowing Owl is considered an accidental specie in the state of Maine.

Although rare, it is worth mentioning because you never know which rare bird you might encounter if you’re lucky enough.

The Burrowing Owl is one of the smallest owl species in the US; it has a squared-shaped, short-tail, yellow eyes, and thin legs.

It has no ear tufts. Adult Burrowing Owls are brown with pale, light brownish spots on their upper parts. Moreover, they have a white throat, eyebrows, and yellow eyes.

The Burrowing Owl is found in open country, prairie, and other open habitats.

It hunts for its prey hovering above the grounds hoping to catch insects and small animals such as rodents. Even when it can fly, it prefers catching its prey by walking on foot.

This small owl is known to fly with irregular, quick wingbeats mixed with long and repeated glides.

11. Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl Characteristics:

  • Scientific Name: Bubo scandiacus
  • Length: 20.5-27.9 in (52-71 cm)
  • Weight: 56.4-104.1 oz (1600-2950 g)
  • Wingspan: 49.6-57.1 in (126-145 cm)

From late November to December, bird watchers can spot Snowy Owls in Maine in the winter. Snowy Owls are beautiful birds with white feathers.

The males are entirely white, while the females and juveniles have black or brown spots on their bodies.

Typically, these owls are medium-large birds with big, round heads and small ear tufts.

The Snowy Owl resides in open areas, like grasslands and open fields. An adept hunter, the Snowy Owl will likely chase, drop, glide, and run to catch its prey.

They have extremely soft feathers, making it possible to glide in silence.

12. The Barred Owl

The Barred Owl Characteristics:

  • Scientific Name: Strix Varia
  • Length: 12.6-15.8 in (32-40 cm)
  • Weight: 14.1-24.7 oz (400-700 g)
  • Wingspan: 39.4-49.2 in (100-125 cm)

The Barred Owl is the last among the birds of prey in Maine on this list.

Also known as the striped owl or hoot owl, it is a large bird with a rounded head, rounded tail with a medium length, and a yellow beak.

This grayish-brown owl has white bars on the mantle and back. Its belly is also streaked in a vertical pattern.

The Barred Owl’s habitats include woodlands, wooded swamps, and evergreen forests, often near water, farms, and cities.

With its sharp talons, powerful beaks, and excellent hearing abilities, hunting is an easy sport for this large bird. It attacks its prey by swooping down from its perch quietly.

Like other owls, the Barred Owl also flies in silence; this is possible because of its broad wings with a large surface area that enables this beast to glide through the sky without flapping.

All Birds of Prey in Maine

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Maine has been blessed with incredible wildlife that speaks for the beauty of nature and the well-balanced structure of the ecosystem.

However, we must also contribute towards preservation efforts to preserve and keep wildlife safe.

We hope this article provided ample information to help you spot a majestic bird of prey in Maine’s beautiful skies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Conclusion For All Birds of Prey in Maine

Are birds of prey in Maine endangered?

From the above-mentioned list of raptors in Maine, the Golden Eagle has been classified as an endangered species in Maine since 1996.

However, other raptors within the state are relatively safe from endangerment. 

Can I observe birds of prey up close in Maine?

Maine offers several spots where you can go birdwatching your favorite raptors.

These destinations include Monhegan Island, Easy Point Sanctuary, Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, and the Acadia National Park.

What is the best time of the year to spot birds of prey in Maine?

Luckily, birding in happen is an activity one can undertake all year round.

Some birds are fall or spring migrants, while others visit Maine during the winter.

If you find this guide, “All Birds of Prey in Maine,” informative and helpful, you can check out these other bird-related articles from our team:

You can learn more about birds by watching “What is the Best Way to Raise a Bird of Prey?” down below: