Salisbury Beach State Reservation

Tips for Birding

A complex of salt marsh, ocean beach, dunes, and river estuary, complete with jetties on both sides of the mouth of the Merrimack, Salisbury Beach attracts a wide variety of fish-eating birds and is a designated Massachusetts Wildlife Viewing Site. The combination of habitats provides opportunities to see a wide range of migrants, wintering birds, and wintering harbor seals. Species of Note: Wintering waterfowl are abundant at this site, with common eiders and all three scoter species often in large flocks in either the ocean or the river. Loons and grebes are easy to observe in fall and winter, and easterly winds bring in alcids (mainly razorbills), gannets, and kittiwakes. Gulls and shorebirds, including purple sandpipers, gather on the jetties at high tide; Iceland and glaucous gulls are often seen in the colder months. The salt marsh harbors herons and shorebirds in spring and fall, waterfowl from fall through spring, and raptors in fall and winter, notably short-eared and snowy owls and rough-legged hawks. The campground is prime winter territory for horned larks, Lapland longspurs, snow buntings, and various sparrows, while the pitch pines lure wintering crossbills, both red and white-winged, in flight years. The pines along the marsh edge are a great migrant trap for songbirds and sometimes harbor wintering saw-whet or long-eared owls. It is not unusual to see 100 or more harbor seals hauled out on the rocks in the river at low tide.

About Salisbury Beach State Reservation

See all hotspots at Salisbury Beach State Reservation

Salisbury Beach is one of the state’s most popular ocean beaches, stretching 3.8 miles along the Atlantic Ocean. This 521-acre park offers swimming, boating, fishing, and camping and is very popular with trailer campers. Facilities include a 484-site campground with renovated bathhouses, an extensive day-use parking lot, three new comfort stations for the beach-going public with boardwalks over the dunes, and a new playground and pavilion area. The facility also has two boat ramps on the Merrimack River at the campground’s southern edge.

In fall and winter, harbor seals often sun themselves on the jetty.

Content from Salisbury Beach State Reservation Official Website and Essex Coastal Scenic Byway