Great Duck Island is 220 acres in size and is located approximately eight miles southeast of Bass Harbor Head. Three major habitat types characterize the island?s interior: perennial grass/raspberry meadow, spruce forest, and wetland. The perimeter of the island is dominated by rock out-croppings, and rock jumbles, with a couple of small cobble beaches. The island has a rich human history including a psychiatric clinic and a light station (constructed in 1890).
Great Duck hosts the largest Leach?s Storm-petrel colony along the east coast of the United States with historically over 5,000 breeding pairs. It also provides significant habitat for nesting Black Guillemots, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls. A long-term productive Bald Eagle nest also can be found there. The upland and marsh habitat also may provide significant nesting and migratory stopover habitat for Passerines, raptors, shorebirds and waterfowl.
The College of The Atlantic maintains a field station on the island. One conservation concern unique to this site involves an introduced hare population (the origin and lineage of which can be debated) that can have significant impacts on the vegetation.
Great Duck Island is owned by The Nature Conservancy, the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and a private individual. The lighthouse, boathouse, and associated property are owned by the College of the Atlantic. Access to this island is restricted from February 15 through August 31. Access has not been granted to privately-owned portions of this island. Viewing the island?s birdlife from the water is recommended.