Shorebird & Horseshoe Crab Viewing in Delaware 2018-04-27T11:36:39+00:00

Shorebirds and Horseshoe Crabs on the Delmarva Peninsula

Delaware Shorebird Project logoEvery 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.

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
Visit for hours & programs

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’em™ – 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

Learn more

Feast on the Beach film

Feast on the Beach: The Delaware Bay Horseshoe Crab Shorebird Connection, produced by the Delaware Shorebird Project, is a film produced to raise awareness and understanding about the ecological connection between horseshoe crabs and shorebirds migrating through the Delaware Bay area, as well as the researchers who study them. Every spring, hundreds of thousands of migrating shorebirds – including the threatened red knot – pass through Delaware’s central Bayshore region and neighboring New Jersey from areas as far away as southern South America on the way to their summer breeding grounds in the Arctic. The Delaware Bay is a crucial refueling stop, where the birds eat horseshoe crab eggs to build their fat reserves before continuing their journey.

Funding for the film was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Delaware Bay Estuary Project, the Delmarva Ornithological Society, and the Fair Play Foundation. Berkana, Center for Media and Education, Inc. partnered with the Delaware Shorebird Project in obtaining funding for the project.

Student Art:  Brandywine Springs Elementary School

Organizations around the world are highlighting the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by committing to continued conservation action to protect birds for another 100 years. Here on Delaware Bay, with one of the most phenomenal bird migrations on our beaches each spring, we also commit to continued action. Students from local schools were invited to use art to help people understand how they can share the beach with the birds and horseshoe crabs. This spring at the Delaware Museum of Natural History, art from fifth grade classes at Brandywine Springs Elementary School is on exhibit. Click here to learn more.

Google Map with Shorebird and Horseshoe Crab Viewing Locations