Wildlife & Habitat

  • Neotropical Migratory Birds

    Magnolia warbler - Dave Small.

    Sunkhaze Meadows is best-known for the numerous species of neotropical migratory birds, especially warblers, which delight birdwatchers in May and June. In fact, all 24 species of warblers that visit Maine each year may be found within the refuge.

  • Garter Snakes

    Garter snake - USFWS.

    The most common species of snake found on the refuge is the garter snake. Garter snakes winter in large groups called hibernacula, and it is common to see large tangles of snakes as they emerge in the spring. When threatened or handled, they emit a bad smelling secretion through their skin which you do not want to rub in your eyes. They mostly eat small invertebrates, such as worms, but larger garter snakes will eat amphibians such as frogs and the spotted salamander. 

  • River Otters

    River Otter - Dave Small

    River otters are a fur-bearing mammal with large canine teeth, a long slender body, short legs, four webbed feet and a long tail covered with dense fur. They live in streams, large lakes, rivers and sea coasts. River otters eat a variety of fish, frogs, and occasionally small diving birds and small mammals. They can dive 60 feet below water surface and stay underwater for up to 4 minutes. Usually shy, river otters are often seen playing on the shore or swimming in the water by people canoeing down Sunkhaze Stream.

  • Bog Domes

    Bod domes overview map - USFWS.

    Although you can’t see them from ground level, this aerial photo you can see the five peat bog domes (tan circular areas) protected by the Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.

    Bogs are special plant communities that form in places where rainwater is the major input available to the plants. Rainwater contains few nutrients; only plants that can effectively capture scarce nutrients can survive.

    Bogs contain thick layers of saturated live and decomposing peat moss. Other plants found in these bogs include sheep laurel, leather leaf, dwarf huckleberry, black crowberry, cranberry, baked-apple berry, pitcher plant, cotton grass, and scattered stunted black spruce.

    Slow decomposition and the ability of peat to absorb and hold large amounts of water allow the peat to build up above the ground surface, creating a dome.

    View the full-size bog domes map (pdf)