As a conservation area, Devil's Head abounds with habitat for wildlife of all kinds, although actual sightings may be rare. Its location is well-suited for birds, woodland mammals, amphibians, intertidal organisms, fungi, and plants of various shapes and sizes.
When Charles "Brand" Livingstone first toured the Devil's Head parklands before it became a park, among the initial comments he registered were the large number of osprey nesting sites he found. Ospreys are among the birds that occasionally claim the park as their home, although the depletion of fish in the river has limited their numbers. If you're lucky, you might see the ospreys circling around the river before diving in at full speed with a fish in their talons. Eagles are also periodically seen, as are smaller hawks. Seagulls and other seafaring birds can be viewed from the shore. In the woods themselves, look out for woodcocks, woodpeckers, songbirds, chickadees, and an assortment of other avians to check off your list.
It won't surprise any regular visitor to Maine that Devil's Head offers an abundance of habitat for mammals of all sizes. No matter the season that you visit the parklands, you're likely to be scorned by squirrels declaring their territory, including the ubiquitous red squirrels, and the more rare-gray squirrels and chipmunks. White-tailed deer are seen periodically, and skunks have formerly made the area their breeding grounds. Historically, black bears have called Devil's Head home, and recent sightings confirm that some bears are still in the area. Other mammals you may chance across are moose, foxes, raccoons, field mice, voles, fishers, and rabbits, among others. Most mammals are active around dusk or dawn, so plan your visit accordingly if you're hoping for a sighting. Be aware that the park is closed in full nighttime, though!
Maine is uniquely covered in areas of wet, marshy woodlands, and it is in this habitat that you'll find most of the state's amphibians. Devil's Head offers one stream, Demont's Brook, and it is occasionally punctuated by the calls of frogs, including spring peepers and bullfrogs. The woodlands themselves are occasionally visited by the moist embrace of a passing salamander seeking shelter under a nearby rock or in the raised roots of a tree. Every now and then, a native turtle can be seen. If you're particularly keen on seeing amphibians in the local area, visit Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge during "Big Night" in early spring - that's when amphibians such as salamanders make their way en masse to vernal pools to begin their summer cycle. As a reminder, Devil's Head is not open at night for the safety of visitors.
Yellow spotted salamander. Photo by Jonathan Mays. Maine Herpetological Society.
If you're a beachcomber at heart, Devil's Head won't disappoint, provided that you come during the right time. Check the tidal chart here and visit during low tide if you'd like to explore the beach alongside Devil's Head. Once there, you'll find an assortment of unusually hearty organisms to visit with. Periwinkles of the smooth and rough variety can be seen among the rockweed beds, along with barnacles, green crabs, amphipods, and more. If you're feeling adventurous, go ahead and lift up a patch of rockweed and see what comes out! Some of the rarer sights include hermit crabs, rock eels, and lumpfish. Since the tide comes in and out with such regularity, you'll never know what you might find until you look for it. In the water itself, keep your ears peeled for the sound of a blowhole - it might be a passing porpoise or seal.
Smooth periwinkle. Photo by Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences.
With it's frequently wet, chill weather conditions, the wooded forests of Devil's Head are ideal for fungi of all shapes and sizes. Any time from mid-summer onward is a good time to spot fungi, from the ubiquitous toadstool to fairy rings arranged in a circle to the bright orange and highly coveted chanterelle mushroom. While it is true that chanterelles are among the most delicious and prized mushrooms by many chefs around the world, please take care not to mistake it for the poisonous Jack o' Lantern. In fact, use caution when harvesting any fungi for consumption as there are many lookalikes that are much less tasty than their desirable counterparts. For the casual observer that wishes only to appreciate the unique aesthetics of these organisms - without which forests would not decay - Devil's Head offers a veritable bounty.
Mushrooms. Photo by Tara Peterson.
In a revelation that will surprise no one, it's true that Devil's Head is replete with plants of every imaginable form. From the earliest and most primitive plants (lichen and moss) to towering trees of both the deciduous (leafy) and coniferous (piney) variety to intricate forest flowers that open to meet the sunlight piercing the canopy, Devil's Head would not be complete without its plants. You'll find species of maple, birch, elm, oak, aspen, beech, cedar, pine, hemlock, spruce and many more along the trails and access road of Devil's Head. Even if you only have the opportunity to drive around the road itself, the journey will take you through multiple copses of trees of every imaginable kind native to northern mixed forests. While in the forest, take a moment to imagine standing beneath a 160' white pine tree - you won't see them there, but they used to exist before Europeans harvested them for use as masts.
Photo by Elizabeth Phillips.
Perhaps that special place in your heart is reserved for insects, and, if so, Devil's Head won't disappoint you. In a state where blackflies have been suggested as the state bird, you'll find no shortage of fascinating specimens to admire. Make sure to come during the warmer months if insects are your hobby, though that probably goes without saying. You're likely to cross paths with welcoming clouds of blackflies and mosquitoes - fair warning - but also be on the lookout for luna or sphinx moths, caterpillars, dragonflies, butterflies, unusually elegant wasps, particularly persistent deer, horse, and moose flies (flailing around vigorously can be helpful to discourage them), snails, red ants (please do be cautious with red ants), black carpenter ants, and pavement ants, and the occasional slug.
Did you get too friendly with an insect that didn't reciprocate your affection? Here's what to do if you've been stung or bitten.
Hemlock looper. Photo by Machi.
Osprey, stock image.
White-tailed deer at Devil's Head. Photo by Nancy Lewis.