National Wildlife Refuge
|c/o Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
6 Plum Island Turnpike
Newburyport, MA 01950
Phone Number: 978-465-5753
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Thacher Island National Wildlife Refuge
Thacher Island National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1972 primarily to provide feeding, resting and nesting habitat for migratory birds. It occupies the northern 22 acres of 52-acre Thacher Island located approximately one mile off the coast of Rockport, Massachusetts.
The refuge and adjacent Town of Rockport property consists of cobble beach, rocky outcrop, grass, and shrub/thicket habitats. It currently supports both herring and great black-backed gulls as nesting species and serves as a resting and refueling stopover site for songbirds and other migrants. Among other wildlife, off-shore use occurs by seals, waterfowl, loons, grebes, cormorants and alcids.
Getting There . . .
The refuge is located approximately 30 miles north of Boston. Access to the refuge is by boat only. A boat ramp is available on the west side of the island on Town of Rockport property. During the summer months the Thacher Island Association operates a boat to the island out of Rockport. Contact the Association at Box 73, Rockport, MA 01966. http://www.thacherisland.org.
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Historically Thacher Island served as nesting habitat for several species of terns. In 1956, 1,125 pairs of arctic, common, and roseate terns were recorded. Since that time however this tern breeding area has been usurped by non-native nesting species of gulls.
Thacher Island has the potential to be reestablished as a prime tern nesting area. The island habitat remains ideal for tern breeding and the island itself is strategically located between Monomoy Island to the south and coastal islands of Maine to the north which currently support nesting terns. From such populations terns could be attracted to establish a nesting colony on Thacher Island.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists have developed a tern restoration proposal which describes the area and the preferred procedures to be incorporated into the restoration project. The proposed method allows for gulls to breed and nest in adjacent areas on the island but not within the specified restoration area.
Thacher Island is home to the Cape Ann Light Station, recently designated a National Historic Landmark. A unique feature of this site is its twin light towers. The North Tower is located on refuge property. The South Tower and associated buildings are located on adjacent town property. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works in partnership with the Thacher Island Association and the Thacher Island Town Committee to manage this important historic resource.