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Can I See Puffins at Acadia National Park?

Maine is home to the southernmost colonies of Atlantic puffins in the world. In the past, puffins were hunted for food and their feathers; by 1900, they had almost entirely disappeared from the Maine waters they had once called home. Thankfully, protections were put in place, and the puffin population in Maine rebounded.

Today, over 4,000 puffins arrive in Maine every spring to breed and raise their chicks. Once their chicks fledge, they leave the waters of Maine for the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean, where they live for several years without returning to shore.

Puffins are sometimes considered goofy birds. This reputation likely stems from their ungainly flying. Unlike penguins, puffins can fly. To start flying, they patter along the surface of the water and flap their wings. Eventually, they launch themselves into the air, where they stay low and close to the water. But their landings are what are truly goofy. More often than not, a puffin “landing” consists mostly of crashing into a wave or belly flopping back into the water.

Visitors to Acadia National Park often wonder where they can see these goofball birds at the park. Unfortunately, puffins are almost never seen from the park shores; they make their homes on islands further from the mainland. If you are visiting Acadia, your best bet to see puffins is to take a boat tour from one of the Mount Desert Island communities to the islands offshore, where puffins breed and live. A quick search of the internet will provide you with many boat operators who can take you to see the puffins who live tantalizingly close to Acadia National Park.


Want to learn more about Acadia National Park and winter activities in the park? Check out 101 Travel Bits: Acadia National Park.


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