Machias Seal Island Lightstation

Machias Seal Island is a treeless 10 acre rock / bird sanctuary located in the Bay of Fundy approximately 18 kilometers south west of Grand Manan Island. An island claimed by both Canada and the United States, Canadians have maintained a light station there since 1832. Today two lightkeepers man the station for 28 day shifts. When their stint is finished two more keepers replace them for the next 28 days. Change-over is made by a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter.

Each summer tour boats bring out bird watchers around the island from neighbouring ports in both Maine and New Brunswick. The breeding species include Arctic Terns, Common Terns, Black Terns, Roseate Terns, Murres, Eiders, Laughing Gulls, Puffins, Razorbills, Leaches Storm petrels, Spotted sandpipers and Savanna Sparrow's. Other visiting and nearby sea-birds include Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Loons, Cormorants, Gannets, Great Black-Backed Gulls, Herring Gulls and Shearwaters. A variety of hawks and falcons incuding Sharp Shinned, Peregrine, Merlin, Kestril, Gyrfalcon (May-June 2000) and Harrier have also made appearances feeding on both seabirds and migratory songbirds.

Off season it can be a bleak place, but for birders, islands like this are always interesting. During and after wind storms it often offers safe haven to birds who get blown out of the normal envirionment. Known as a migrant trap, strays (from owls to cuckoos) often stay for a few days. Below are some non-migratory, exceptional sightings...


Red Billed Tropicbird - sighted 7/11/05

Golden Crowned Sparrow - sighted 6/28/03

South Polar Skua - sighted Aug. 2002

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Fiddler Paul Cranford was a Lighthouse Keepers on Machias Seal from 1991-2009. Paul is a also a composer and book publisher. This page is hosted on The Cranford Publications Website. See - The Lighthouse Collection.

 Bird Tours around & on Machias Seal Island

  1. The Barbara Frost - Bold Coast - Captain Andy Patterson, Cutler, Maine (207 259 4484)
  2. Seawatcher - Peter Wilcox & Durlan Ingersoll - Seal Cove, Grand Manan, NB ( 506 662 8552)
  3. The Chief - Jonesport, Maine
Links to other Lighthouse Sites

New Brunswick Lighthouses (Machias Seal History etc)

  • Choose Extras sidebar
  • Choose Machias Seal Island (photo gallery)
  • At the end of the story choose the link for Machias Seal Island History

Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society

Bird Links

(Atlantic Co-operative Wildlife Ecology Research Network)
(Canadian Wildlife Services)
Nature New Brunswick

Birds at Machias Seal Island1 | Birds at Machias Seal Island 2

Birding for the 21st Century | Hawks, Falcons and Owls

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