The Delaware Bayshore region is 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 Bayshore's 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 Bayshore
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 Bayshore. [PDF]
The Progress: Lasting Results
The Conservancy works throughout the Delaware Bayshore 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 Bayshore are home to a host of rare and endangered plants and animals. The Conservancy’s 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.
Watch this video to learn more about the Delaware Bayshores’ migratory bird species.