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Whimbrel Watch

Machipongo, VA

A flock of birds fly in an upwards pointing V shape against a bright blue, clear sky.
Whimbrel Flock A flock of whimbrel fly over TNC's VVCR. © Mario Balitbit/TNC


Event Overview

The public is invited to join TNC VVCR’s Migratory Bird Conservation staff and volunteers on the evenings of May 19th-28th from 5:00-7:00 pm ET to learn about Whimbrel migration, take in the beauty and biodiversity of the seaside salt marsh habitat and participate in a little citizen science!

Whimbrel have a remarkable migration story! These shorebirds travel from their wintering grounds in South America to their breeding territory in the Arctic and subarctic each spring – over 4,000 miles one way! For many Whimbrel, Virginia is the only stop before reaching their breeding grounds. The Virginia Coast Reserve is especially important for these birds to rest and refuel, where they feed on an abundance of invertebrates, such as fiddler crabs, on the expanses of protected marshland. Whimbrel Watch began in 2009 to document Whimbrel leaving the area and has become an annual outreach event to engage the community in citizen science. This effort is conducted in partnership with William & Mary’s Center for Conservation Biology.

Event Location Details:

To reach Box Tree Farm, east of Machipongo, take Machipongo Road east from Highway 13. Machipongo Road will become Box Tree Drive as you cross through at the stop sign on Seaside Road. Follow Box Tree Drive all the way to the end where you’ll see our team, the salt marsh and the water!

For questions, please reach out to our Migratory Bird Specialist, Mario Balitbit at or our Outreach and Education Coordinator, Margaret Van Clief at or call (757) 414-9227.