John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge at Pettaquamscutt Cove
Northeast Region

Wildlife & Habitat


In the tidal salt marsh portions of the refuge, the dominant vegetation types are salt meadow grass (Spartina patens), salt marsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), spike grass(Distichlis spicata), saltwort (Salicornia sp.), and sea lavender (Limonium nashii). Several islands in the salt marsh are composed of black oak (Quercus velutina), with a poison ivy (Rhus radicans) understory. The uplands adjacent to the west side of the river are primarily forested by black oak and red maple, while the uplands on its east side are dominated by red maple.

Threatened and Endangered Species

Piping plover, a federally listed species (threatened), and least tern, a State-listed species (threatened), nest at the mouth of the Narrow River, but have a limited presence on the refuge. No other animals that are federal- or State-listed as threatened or endangered are found within the watershed. The State endangered sea pink plant (Sabatia tellaris) is known in the vicinity of the refuge along the Narrow River, but no surveys have been conducted to verify its presence on the refuge.


Formal surveys of American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)and saltmarsh sharptailed sparrow (Ammodramus caudacutus) are underway. Other waterfowl that commonly winter in the Narrow River watershed are mallards, canvasbacks, bufflehead, mergansers, Canada geese, and the non-native mute swan. Another common salt marsh species found on the refuge, besides sharptailed sparrows, are red-winged blackbirds. Snowy egrets are often found foraging in tidal channels and salt marsh pools. There is at least one osprey nest in the watershed, and as many as three pairs forage there. The uplands contain a diversity of nesting and migratory songbirds, including common yellowthroat, eastern pewee, gray catbird, common grackle, American redstart, blue-winged warbler, and white-eyed vireo.

Invertebrates, Reptiles, Amphibians, and Mammals

No surveys have been conducted for these species on refuge lands.


Seventy-five species of fish have been documented to use the Narrow River at some point in their life history; 28 fish species and 5 shellfish species use the lower section of the river adjacent to the refuge. The Narrow River provides the largest alewife run of any river in Rhode Island (RI CRMC 1998).

Last updated: January 10, 2012