Bird Feeder Hub is reader-supported. When you click and buy we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

11 Birds to Look For in Maine This Winter (Pictures)

Maine, known for its rugged coastline and dense forests, offers a diverse habitat for a variety of wildlife, particularly birds. Its winters are known for being harsh and unforgiving, creating a landscape where only the hardiest species thrive.

In this article, we present a list of 11 bird species that call Maine home during its challenging winter months. Each species demonstrates remarkable adaptability and resilience in facing the state’s icy temperatures and scarce food resources. This listicle aims to provide an informative glimpse into the lives of these enduring birds that brave Maine’s winter season.

1. Northern Flicker

  • Scientific name: Colaptes auratus
  • Length: 11.0-12.2 in
  • Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz
  • Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in

These medium to large-sized woodpeckers are quite common in backyards throughout the United States, though not extremely common at feeders. In my opinion, they are also among some of the most colorful birds in North America. Flickers feed mainly on insects and unlike other woodpeckers, often like to find them on the ground rather than trees.

Identify them by the black spots on their bellies, solid black bib, red patch on the back of their necks, and barred black and gray wings. Males have a black “mustache”. In Maine, you get the “yellow-shafted” variety, and they have bright yellow feathers on the underside of their wings and tail.

In winter, Northern Flicker survives on insects and berries. Known for a distinct chest mark and yellow underwings, they may appear slightly paler during colder months. They need minimal help from humans; suet and seeds in bird feeders provide extra nourishment. 

2. Northern Cardinal

  • Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis
  • Length: 8.3-9.1 in
  • Weight: 1.5-1.7 oz
  • Wingspan: 9.8-12.2 in

Northern Cardinals are among the most recognizable and common backyard birds in North America. However, that hasn’t always been the case in Maine. As recently as 1950 cardinals were considered rare in the state. They have slowly been expanding their breeding range north and are much more common in Maine today.

Males have bright red feathers and a black mask, and females have duller colors and are more pale brown with some reddish coloring. Both males and females are easily recognized by their “mohawks” and reddish orange beaks

During winter, Northern Cardinals survive by eating seeds, fruits, and insects. Their red feathers and unique crest stand out against the snow. Male Cardinals show their brightest red plumage during the season, with feathers becoming even brighter as it goes on. Keeping bird feeders full helps them stay strong in the cold.

3. Downy Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Picoides pubescens
  • Length: 5.5-6.7 in
  • Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
  • Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in

Downy’s are very common backyard birds that love to visit bird feeders. They are the smallest woodpeckers in North America and are always one of the first species I see at a new bird feeder.

They are easily identifiable by their all-white underbodies, black wings with white spots, black and white striped heads, and the red spot on the back of their heads (in males, females have no red). Though they do closely resemble the Hairy Woodpecker, Downy’s are smaller. 

In winter, Downy Woodpeckers eat insects, seeds, and berries to stay strong. Their fluffy feathers keep them warm without needing much extra care. Even though their colors stay the same in winter, having full bird feeders helps them through the cold months.

4. House Finch

Male and Female House Finch
  • Scientific name: Haemorhous mexicanus
  • Length: 5.1-5.5 in
  • Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz
  • Wingspan: 7.9-9.8 in

The House Finch is yet another common backyard bird in Maine. Though they are invasive to the eastern U.S., they are not universally hated like other invasive birds such as House Sparrows or European Starlings.

If you attract them, which is fairly easy to do, they may show up in large flocks and mob your feeders. Males are mostly streaked brown with some red on the head and chest, females have no red coloring.

In Maine, House Finches tackle winter by munching on seeds and berries, using their strong beaks. They don’t change color but fluff up their feathers in the cold for extra warmth. Keeping bird feeders filled helps them out during chilly times.

5. American Crow

  • Scientific name: Corvus brachyrhynchos
  • Length: 15.8-20.9 in
  • Weight: 11.2-21.9 oz
  • Wingspan: 33.5-39.4 in

American Crows are solid black in color, and quite large in size. They are also know for being highly intelligent problem solvers, like their cousin the raven. Crows will roost higher up in the tree tops in large groups where they can get a birds eye view of everything below. If an owl or a hawk shows up, the roost will call out and let everyone known that there is danger nearby. 

In Maine, American Crows handle winter by eating fruits, seeds, and leftovers. They’re among the smartest of all birds and keep their black feathers unchanged in winter. Offering extra food helps them during tough weather.

6. Great Blue Heron 

2 great blue herons on their nest
Great Blue Herons on their nest | image by:
  • Scientific name: Ardea herodias
  • Length: 38.2-53.9 in
  • Weight: 74.1-88.2 oz
  • Wingspan: 65.8-79.1 in

The Great Blue Heron, a majestic wader with distinctive blue-gray plumage and a long, slender neck, is another winter resident of Maine. While these birds are known for their presence near water bodies during the warmer months, some individuals remain in Maine throughout the winter.

Unlike some bird species that migrate south, the Great Blue Heron adapts to the state’s colder temperatures by seeking ice-free stretches of water, where it patiently hunts for fish, amphibians, and other aquatic prey.

Maine’s winter challenges many species, but the Great Blue Heron showcases its versatility by adjusting its foraging habits to winter conditions. During this season, these herons can be observed in various habitats, from coastal areas to inland water bodies. 

7. Wild Turkey  

Wild turkey
Wild turkey | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Meleagris gallopavo
  • Length: 43.3-45.3 in
  • Weight: 88.2-381.0 oz.
  • Wingspan: 49.2-56.7 in

The Wild Turkey, a prominent resident of Maine, maintains its robust and distinctive presence even in winter. With its large size, bald head, and colorful plumage, this ground-dwelling bird thrives in the diverse landscapes of Maine. In winter, Wild Turkeys often form flocks, displaying communal behaviors as they forage in open areas such as fields and woodlands.

Maine’s winter doesn’t prompt Wild Turkeys to migrate; they cope with the cold using well-insulated feathers and communal strategies. During this season, their diet shifts to seeds, acorns, and plant materials, adapting to the changing food availability.

8. Ruffed Grouse 

Ruffed Grouse
  • Scientific name: Bonasa umbellus
  • Length: 15.8-19.7 in
  • Weight: 15.9-26.5 oz
  • Wingspan: 19.7-25.2 in

The Ruffed Grouse is known for its mottled brown feathers and distinct ruffed neck. This ground-dwelling bird is well-suited to Maine’s forests and can be found throughout the state, even in winter. Unlike many migratory birds, the Ruffed Grouse doesn’t fly off for the cold season; it sticks around and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

In winter, the Ruffed Grouse has some practical survival tactics. Its brown plumage helps it blend in with the snowy surroundings, making it easier to find buds, twigs, and berries without attracting predators. Additionally, these birds often dig into the snow to create roosting spots, using the snow’s insulation to stay warm.

9. Blue Jay

  • Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata
  • Length: 9.8-11.8 in
  • Weight: 2.5-3.5 oz
  • Wingspan: 13.4-16.9 in

Another very well-known bird species in North America and the U.S. is the Blue Jay. They have a large blue crest on top of their heads with mostly blue feathers along their back and white feathers their chest and belly.

Their wings and tail have black stripes. They also have a black ring around their necks that looks like a necklace. They have several loud, metallic sounding calls, and will often be among the first to alert all the birds in the area of a predator such as a hawk.

In Maine, Blue Jays handle winter by eating nuts, seeds, and berries. These birds stay active all year with their bright blue feathers and unique crest. Their feathers don’t change color in winter. Giving them energy-packed food like suet and sunflower seeds helps them survive the cold months. Keeping their food supply steady helps Blue Jays deal with Maine’s winter challenges.

10. Black-capped Chickadee 

black capped chickadee on a tree branch

  • Scientific name: Poecile atricapillus
  • Length: 4.7-5.9 in
  • Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz
  • Wingspan: 6.3-8.3 in

The Black-capped Chickadee brings winter charm to Maine. With its distinctive black cap and bib against snowy-white cheeks, this small bird stays in the heart of the state all year round. Despite its size, the Black-capped Chickadee adeptly handles the demanding winter conditions of Maine.

Known for their friendly nature, these chickadees create close-knit groups in winter, moving skillfully through bare branches to find insects, seeds, and berries.

As temperatures drop, these adaptable birds undergo physiological changes, enabling them to lower their body temperature on cold nights—a smart strategy for conserving energy.

11. Snowy Owl

  • Scientific name: Bubo scandiacus
  • Length: 20.5-27.9 in
  • Weight: 6.4-104.1 oz
  • Wingspan: 49.6-57.1 in

The Snowy Owl, a notable Arctic bird, sometimes comes to Maine in winter. Recognized for its white feathers, yellow eyes, and sizable build, the Snowy Owl stands out in the winter landscape.

While usually residing in the Arctic tundra, some migrate south during winter, reaching places like Maine in search of food.

In Maine, Snowy Owls are often observed in open areas, such as coastal dunes, fields, and airports. Their winter migration to more southerly locations is driven by the availability of prey, particularly lemmings in their Arctic breeding grounds.

Maine Winters and Bird Adaptations 

Maine experiences harsh winters characterized by cold temperatures, heavy snowfall, and icy conditions. From December to February, temperatures often drop below freezing, with occasional extreme cold snaps. Snowstorms are frequent, covering the landscape in a thick blanket of snow.

Birds in Maine have evolved various adaptations to thrive in the state’s diverse environments. Many species migrate to warmer regions during the winter, while others endure the cold by growing thicker plumage. Some birds have specialized beaks for extracting seeds from snow-covered ground, and others rely on stored food sources.

Coastal areas provide essential habitats for seabirds, and forests offer shelter for numerous species. The diversity of bird adaptations in Maine reflects their ability to exploit different niches and survive in a range of conditions.

How Winter Birds Survive in Maine 

In the challenging winter conditions of Maine, birds employ diverse survival strategies to endure and thrive. Many species adapt their diets, shifting to food sources that are more readily available during winter. Specialized metabolic processes and behavioral changes, such as communal roosting, help in conserving energy.

Additionally, birds exhibit physiological adaptations like fluffing their feathers for better insulation against the cold. Understanding these intricate mechanisms sheds light on the remarkable ways in which winter birds not only survive but successfully navigate the demanding environment of Maine.

Why do some birds in Maine not migrate?

Some birds in Maine choose not to migrate due to a variety of factors. One key reason is the availability of the type of food they eat throughout the year. Certain bird species find sufficient resources in Maine’s diverse habitats, such as forests and coastal areas, even during the winter months.

Additionally, these birds have evolved physiological adaptations to endure colder temperatures, allowing them to stay in the region instead of undertaking long migratory journeys.

The decision not to migrate is essentially a survival strategy, as these birds have found ways to thrive in Maine’s environment throughout all seasons. 

Leave a Comment