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Shorebirds and Horseshoe Crabs on the Delmarva Peninsula

Every spring, Delaware Bay is the epicenter of both an amazing shorebird migration and spawning by tens of thousands of Horseshoe Crabs. From Red Knots to Ruddy Turnstones, birds arrive and depart daily, taking advantage of this unique and amazing phenomenon.  For nearly 20 years, the Delaware Shorebird Project has been there to study this event in order to better understand and protect it. The Delaware Museum of Natural History’s Director of Collections and Curator of Birds, Jean Woods, Ph.D., participates annually in shorebirds research on the Delmarva Peninsula with the Delaware Shorebird Project.  Learn more in the project’s 2016 Field Report or the new film, Feast on the Beach: the Delaware Bay Horseshoe Crab Shorebird Connection. 

Seeing Shorebirds

Peak viewing is generally May 15-27
Best viewing time is just after high tide to mid tide (View tide information here.)

Best site:
DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor Reserve
2992 Lighthouse Rd.
Milford, DE 19963
302-422-1329
(May hours Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., viewing deck always open)

Viewing Horseshoe crabs

Peak viewing is May 10 – June 15

Best viewing time:

  • Any high tide (unless strong onshore wind).
  • Highest numbers are seen at the new and full moon high tides. (View tide information here.)

Best sites:

  • Pickering Beach
  • Kitts Hummock
  • Slaughter Beach

How can you help?

  • Don’t disturb the shorebirds! They need as much feeding time as possible

  • Just Flip’emTM – save a horseshoe crab by turning it right side up.  Don’t flip using the tail.
  • Volunteer for a horseshoe crab spawning survey. Click here to find out how.
  • Report color-marked shorebirds to www.bandedbirds.org

Google Map with Shorebird and Horseshoe Crab Viewing Locations