Block Island

Tips for Birding

Block Island 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 Block Island National Wildlife Refuge land attract over 70 species of migratory songbirds. Block Island is also popular with birders because the open fields and low-lying vegetation afford excellent spotting opportunities.

About Block Island

Just off the south coast of Rhode Island, Block Island is a wildlife hotspot, providing habitat for many plants and animals that disappeared from the rest of southern New England decades ago. Today, nearly half of the island is permanently protected for people and nature. 

In 1991, The Nature Conservancy named Block Island one of 12 “Last Great Places” in the western hemisphere. This special designation highlights the island’s abundance of rare plants and animals and the community’s unique support for conservation. The Nature Conservancy set up a permanent field office on the island soon after, affirming its long-term commitment to the community. The Block Island Program manages over 2,000 acres of wildlife habitat, offers hands-on discovery programs, and supports groundbreaking scientific research in the Great Salt Pond.

Download the Block Island Trail System map from The Nature Conservancy.

Block Island is located in Block Island Sound approximately 9 miles south of the mainland and 14 miles east of Montauk Point, named after Dutch explorer Adriaen Block. It is part of Washington County and shares the same area as the town of New Shoreham. It is part of the Outer Lands region, a coastal archipelago.

Block Island is a popular summer tourist destination and is known for its bicycling, hiking, sailing, fishing, and beaches. It is also the location of Block Island North Light on the northern tip of the island and Block Island Southeast Light on the southeastern side, both historic lighthouses. Much of the northwestern tip of the island is an undeveloped natural area and resting stop for birds along the Atlantic flyway.

Popular events include the annual Fourth of July Parade, celebration, and fireworks. The island's population can triple over the normal summer vacation crowd. 

Notable Trails

The Block Island Conservancy is dedicated to maintaining habitats for animals and birds, protecting the natural beauty of this island, providing trails for walking and quiet recreation, and protecting Block Island’s natural heritage, rural character, and public access to its resources.  The Block Island Conservancy website has descriptions and directions to many trails on the island. 

Content from The Nature Conservancy webpage and Wikipedia