Crowley Island, Washington County, Maine

About Crowley Island

This two-mile-long, 700-acre island sits in the estuary of the Indian River east of Pleasant Bay in Down East Maine. Tidal flats surrounding the island are important feeding and resting habitats for shorebirds and waterfowl, including black ducks. Crowley Island was once a fishing and farming community, but most residents abandoned the island during the last century. Over time, trees and shrubs grew in, choking the old fields and orchards. Today ruffed grouse, woodcock, migratory and nesting songbirds, deer, bear, moose, and coyotes live on the island.

In 1996 a bridge was built to link Crowley Island to the mainland and promote a subdivision of vacation homes. Although some development has taken place, most of Crowley Island remains in a natural state. Concerned citizens with the Pleasant River Wildlife Foundation are actively working to protect wildlife habitat on the island. So far, the foundation has acquired two large parcels on the east side of the island, safeguarding three miles of shoreline, 283 acres of upland, and more than 150 acres of intertidal wetlands. The foundation is also negotiating with other landowners to develop conservation plans for their properties.

Improving the Land for Woodcock

photo of excavator creating woodcock habitat on Crowley Island

An excavator with a brontosaurus cutting head at work on Crowley Island in winter 2009.

Alders, aspen, birch, and other native shrubs and hardwood trees cloak many upland acres on Crowley Island, providing brood-rearing and feeding habitats for both resident and migrating woodcock. WMI biologists recognized that two habitat components were scarce: openings from which male woodcock could sing and conduct springtime display flights, and fields in which woodcock could roost in late summer and early fall.

In winter 2009, an excavator with a Brontosaurus cutting head knocked down shrubby growth in old fields and blueberry barrens to create an 8-acre roosting field; 2 acres of singing grounds and courtship areas spread over three sites; and a 1.5-acre strip cut in an alder stand. (A series of strip cuts will ultimately provide different ages of alder shrubs, keeping a percentage of the stand in dense, young growth beneath which woodcock will feed on earthworms.)

Funding and Partners

Pleasant River Wildlife Federation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program), U.S. Geological Survey, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Wildlife Management Institute.

How to Visit

Crowley Island lies between the towns of Addison and Jonesport. It can be reached via Maine Route 187. After crossing the Indian River and the town line of Jonesport, turn right onto the island access road. To visit the project area, write to Pleasant River Wildlife Foundation, P.O. Box 154, Addison, ME 04606, or contact a representative at

For additional information on Crowley island, including a map, see