The Delaware Bayshores region is a relatively intact, natural area acknowledged as one of the Earth’s most important stopovers for migratory birds. The Bayshores’ beaches, wetlands, and forests provide vital feeding and resting grounds along this historic northern migration route. More than 100 species of migratory and nesting birds visit portions of this landscape throughout the year, including waterfowl, raptors, shorebirds and songbirds.
For many birds, the Bayshores’ beaches and marshes are the only stop on an annual odyssey from their winter feeding grounds in South America to Arctic breeding sites. Each spring, a natural phenomenon that has been repeated for millennia occurs, when countless horseshoe crabs come ashore to spawn. Migratory birds that travel up to 9,000 miles on the Atlantic Flyway feed on the eggs of these ancient animals.
Preserving the health and quality of this key stopover for migratory birds has global conservation implications.
Threats Facing the Bayshores
Residential development, climate change, and invasive species have been causing increasing amounts of stress to this landscape. Water quality also suffers from increased sedimentation and paving that comes with development.
Download a fact sheet on protecting the Delaware Bayshores. [PDF]
The Progress: Lasting Results
The Conservancy works throughout the Delaware Bayshores in hopes of protecting the region’s collective biological diversity.
To date, the Conservancy has safeguarded over 16,310 acres at 18 nature preserves. These special places include the Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve, comprising over 850 acres of forests and hardwood swamps; Maurice River Bluffs Preserve, 535 acres of resting and feeding grounds for raptors and other migratory birds; and Gandy’s Beach Preserve, nearly 2,500 acres of beaches, marshes, and forests that provide nesting and feeding grounds for migratory birds.
The Delaware Bayshores are home to a host of rare and endangered plants and animals. The Conservancy’s 3,670 acre Manumuskin River Preserve protects several globally rare plants, and Lummis Ponds Preserve is home to swamp pink (Helonias bullata), a rare flowering pink wetland plant. Indian Trail Swamp Preserve, located on the Cape May Peninsula, is a 725 acre preserve that helps protect a state-imperiled Cape May lowland swamp community.
Land protection continues to be a primary strategic tool as we work to conserve the best and most threatened of New Jersey’s lands and waters. Increasingly, however, the Conservancy is working with private landowners -especially farmers- to help them manage their lands for wildlife and water quality. As we look ahead, we do so with an ever-increasing understanding of the need to focus our strategic vision on larger natural areas and systems.
One of these areas is found along the Manumuskin River in Cumberland County, where the Conservancy and its partners have worked for 25 years to counter threats to the “Wild and Scenic” system that includes the Manumuskin and Maurice rivers and Menantico Creek.
Right now, we are working to protect a 493-acre tract, recently slated for development, adjacent to our 3,500-acre Manumuskin River Preserve; protecting the tract, which contains small tributary systems of the Manumuskin, will deflect development and buttress protection of the area’s pristine waters, open mudflats, upland forest, lowland swamps, and the least disturbed tidally influenced freshwater marsh in the state.
Learn more about Manumuskin River Preserve and how you can help protect this special place.
Take a virtual tour of the Delaware Bayshores.
See the migratory birds that can be found along the Delaware Bayshores, a crucial stopover habitat for more than 100 species.
Watch this video to learn more about the Delaware Bayshores’ migratory bird species.