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Bird-Watching in Rhode Island

ospreyRhode Island may be small but there are hundreds of opportunities for bird-watching in the Ocean State. Rhode Island offers many coastal and inland locations for viewing migratory birds but also houses a vibrant year-round resident population.

Here are just a few bird-watching destinations to wet your appetite.

Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge

Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge

Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge – Tiverton

Owned by the Audubon Society since 1965 the 50-acre Emile Ruecker Wildlife Refuge in Tiverton offers a bird-watcher the chance to see great and snowy egrets, glossy ibis, osprey and black-crowned night-heron.

The coastal location provides trails through a salt marsh and a peninsula out into the Sakonnet River. While you can easily walk all the trails in 45-minutes the fun is not in the walk but stopping frequently to identify species in the woodlands, marsh and river areas. Take your binoculars and enjoy the wide variety of bird life in this haven for spotters.

Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge

Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge

Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge – South Kingstown:

The last undeveloped coastal pond in RI is Trustom Pond, part of the 800-acres of Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge in South Kingstown. The refuge supports varied wildlife including many different species of waterfowl during the spring and fall migration, and a wide array of songbirds along with some nesting rare osprey and least terns.

Trustom Refuge includes Moonstone Beach – a 1.5-mile barrier beach closed April 1 to September 15th to protect the nesting piping plover population. Herculean efforts by refuge staff and volunteers have been made to return the habitat to natural state especially the grasslands. The refuge is located on Schoolhouse Road off the Moonstone Brach Road exit on Route 1 South in the town of South Kingstown.

Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge

Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge

Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge – Middletown:

Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge sits on the southeastern tip of Aquidneck Island which also includes Newport Rhode Island. The refuge has trails, a visitor center and observation points.

There are about 250-acres of seaside wetland and upland habitats where you can see more than 200 species of birds including peregrine falcon, snowy owl, harlequin ducks, scoters, and eiders. Sachuest point is a popular spot with bird-watchers for spotting stopover and wintering migratory birds.

The Ocean View Loop Trail offers access shoreline access along Sachuest Bay, and safe views of Purgatory Chasm – a popular attraction on the peninsula. The refuge is located just a few miles east of Newport.

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Norman Bird Sanctuary and Museum – Middletown:

In the same vicinity as Sachuest Point you’ll find the Norman Bird Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is a 325-acre wildlife refuge with trails through forest, fields, ledge and beach habitats that offer a wonderful chance to see birds of many species and some breathtaking ocean views.

The ponds and streams attract species such as mute swan, mallard, great egret, green heron, and the black-crowned night-heron. In the woodland areas you’ll likely see hawks, chickadees, the downy woodpecker, eastern towhee and gray catbird, and field locations are great to spot blackbirds, tree swallows, bobolink, northern harriers and the American Goldfinch.

Block Island National Refuge

Block Island National Refuge

Block Island National Wildlife Refuge – Block Island:

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 a rest and feed in 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 attract 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.

For more details on these and other attractions to see during Rhode Island Vacations and to pick up your free trip planner package go to Cliff’s New England Vacation Guide at: http://www.new-england-vacations-guide.com

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  1. Linda C

    What great pictures. Enjoyed reading about the area too.

  2. Jed S

    Nice selection of locations thanks for the article, and I agree pictures are great as well.

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