U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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Eastern Shore Of Virginia
National Wildlife Refuge


5003 Hallett Circle
Cape Charles, VA   23310
E-mail: fw5rw_esvnwr@fws.gov
Phone Number: 757-331-2760
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
http://www.fws.gov/refuge/eastern_shore_of_virginia/
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  Overview
Eastern Shore Of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge
Lying at the tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge serves as one of the country's most valuable stopovers for migratory birds. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay, this 1,127-acre refuge was established in 1984 for migratory birds and endangered species management and for wildlife-dependent recreation including interpretation and education.

This area is one of the most important avian migration funnels in North America. Each fall, like colorful clockwork, the refuge is the scene of a spectacular drama as millions of songbirds and monarch butterflies and thousands of raptors converge at the tip of the peninsula on their voyage south.


Getting There . . .
From the Hampton Roads area, take US 13 North across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and take the first right onto Seaside Road (Route 600). The next two roads to the right are refuge entrances.

From points north, take US 13 South to the bottom of the Delmarva Peninsula and take the last left before the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel onto Seaside Road (Route 600). The next two roads to the right are refuge entrances.


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Wildlife and Habitat

Located at the northern edge of the entrance to Chesapeake Bay, Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR is an important staging and feeding area for migratory birds. Extensive grasslands provide food and cover for many species. Islands of higher ground support stands of pine trees and provide additional habitats. Part of the Atlantic Flyway, the refuge is a key stop for many species of migrating waterfowl.

This area is one of the most important avian migration funnels in North America. Each fall, like colorful clockwork, the refuge is the scene of a spectacular drama as millions of songbirds and monarch butterflies and thousands of raptors converge at the tip of the peninsula on their voyage south. Favorable weather patterns push migrating species through the area in waves. Clouds of tree swallows swirl over ponds and flame orange and black-winged monarch butterflies float aloft.

Protected habitats such as these provide critical stopover areas where birds and butterflies can rest and feed before resuming their arduous journey.

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History
The Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge looks very different from when it was Fort John Custis or the Cape Charles Air Force Base.

The strategic location at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay encouraged military uses of the area in the years before the refuge was established. At the beginning of World War II, much of the land which is now refuge was acquired by the federal government and named Fort John Custis, after a prominent eighteenth century resident of Northampton County. During the war, large bunkers housed 16-inch guns designed to protect naval bases and shipyards in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. In 1950, the U.S. Air Force acquired Fort John Custis, renaming it the Cape Charles Air Force Station. Radar towers and additional buildings were built by the Air Force, which occupied the area until 1981.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Hunting
Interpretation
Photography
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
The focus of refuge management efforts is protecting, restoring, and enhancing habitat for forest and shrub-dependent migratory birds. By increasing the amount of hardwoods like oak, hickory, maple and sweet gum and increasing shrublands, these migratory species will have additional sources of high-quality food.

Future conservation efforts lie in the refuge's commitment to protecting and enhancing the migration corridor through preserving, acquiring, and revegetating hardwood, shrub and grassland areas. Alliances with nearby landowners will increase available habitat, and research will focus on augmenting our knowledge to make biologically sound management decisions.

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