Block Island NWR

Block Island NWR

New Shoreham, Rhode Island 02807

Block Island National Wildlife Refuge webpage
Block Island National Wildlife Refuge map

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Block Island NWR

About Block Island NWR

Tips for birding

The refuge encompasses the northern tip of Block Island (Sandy Point) and includes the historic North Lighthouse. The shoreline of the refuge consists of a cobble beach that extends from the Settler’s Rock parking area to Sandy Point, and a sandy/cobble beach that extends several miles along the west side from Sandy Point to Great Salt Pond. The uplands of vegetated dunes provide a rookery for seagulls, and Sachem Pond is a feeding area for a wide variety of waterfowl. This is an ideal area for walking, bird watching, and enjoying the view in all directions. Four-wheel-drive vehicles with permits may drive out to Sandy Point, where fishing is a popular activity. This is an environmentally sensitive area—stay off vegetation and out of the dunes. Do not swim at Sandy Point, as it has dangerous tidal currents. Parking is available.

The Block Island National Wildlife Refuge is an important stopover for migratory birds in the fall. Many birds, either because of inexperience or the strong fall winds, are swept off their normal path and seek rest and feed on Block Island before continuing on their journey. In late September the Monarch Butterfly migration peaks and is another reason to visit Block Island.

The 127 acres of refuge land attracts over 70 species of migratory songbirds and Block Island is also popular with birders because the open fields and low-lying vegetation afford excellent spotting opportunities.

For a great trail walk, take the close-by Clay Head Trail near Settlers Rock and follow the trail around the scenic line of clay headlands until it moves inland and skirts the Clay Head Swamp, a wonderful place for bird-watching in the early morning.

Block Island is 12 miles off the Rhode Island coast and ferries leave from Point Judith in Narragansett.

About Block Island National Wildlife Refuge

Located approximately 12 miles offshore on picturesque Block Island, this small refuge provides important habitat for wildlife and a place for people to appreciate the natural environment of the island. The refuge was established in 1973 with the transfer of 28 acres from the U.S. Coast Guard and has grown to its current size of 133 acres today. Block Island National Wildlife Refuge is administered as part of the Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which manages all five of the National Wildlife Refuges in Rhode Island, and is headquartered in Charlestown, Rhode Island.

Refuge lands on Block Island are most notable for the large concentration (over 70 species) of migratory songbirds which visit the area each fall. Located in the Atlantic flyway, many young, inexperienced songbirds “overfly” the mainland and stopover on Block Island before continuing their migration. The result is a cornucopia of young migratory songbirds from a variety of different species. Block Island is internationally recognized as one of the most important migratory bird habitats on the east coast, attracting hundreds of “birders” to the Island each fall. The refuge is also home to the largest gull colony in Rhode Island.

Content from Block Island National Wildlife Refuge webpage, Rhode Island Coastal Access Guide, and New England Bird House blog