Cool facts about Maine critters

Did you know…

Photo by Aislinn Sarnacki. Puffin.

The Atlantic puffin’s beak fades to a drab gray during the winter and blooms with color again in the spring.

The northern cardinal is so well loved that it has been named the official bird of no fewer than seven U.S. states. Thank you, Maine, for not jumping on that band wagon.

The Maine state bird, the the black-capped chickadee, hides food and can remember thousands of hiding places. Every autumn, the chickadee allows brain neurons containing old information to die, replacing them with new neurons so they can adapt to changes in their social flocks and environment. Smart little guy.

Photo by Aislinn Sarnacki. Osprey.

Ospreys pretty much only eat fish. Fish make up about 99 percent of their diet. Bald eagles are believed to mate for life, and hummingbirds can fly backwards.

Crows are smart and have been known to make and use tools. For example, a crow shaping a piece of wood and then sticking it into a hole in a fence post in search of food.

Only female mosquitoes bite humans (with teeth!), but only male crickets chirp.

Firefly light flashes in patterns that are unique to each species, of which there are about 2,000.

Butterflies taste receptors are on their feet, and snakes smell through their tongue.

Wasps have some 30,000 identified species, and most wasps are actually solitary, non-stinging varieties. They come in many colors, including metallic blue and bright red.

Frogs were the first land animal with vocal chords.

Photo by Aislinn Sarnacki. Chipmunk.

There are 280 different species of squirrel, and chipmunks are actually just small squirrels with stripes.

Beavers have a set of transparent eyelids that function much like goggles.

Despite their name, black bears can be blue-gray or blue-black, brown, cinnamon, or even (very rarely) white.

Lobsters can grow back new claws, legs and antennae; and the lobsters you eat at a restaurant (1-2 pounds) are about 5-7 years old.

Sources: American Museum of Natural History, San Diego Zoo, National Geographic, Discovery,, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.






Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at