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Pond Island
National Wildlife Refuge


PO Box 1735
9 Water Street
Rockland, ME   04841
E-mail: mainecoastal@fws.gov
Phone Number: 1 207 594-0600
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
http://www.fws.gov/northeast/mainecoastal/
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  Overview
Pond Island National Wildlife Refuge
Pond Island NWR is managed by Maine Coastal Islands NWR Complex. Pond Island NWR is a 10-acre island located in the mouth of the Kennebec River adjacent to Popham Beach. The U.S. Coast Guard transferred the island to the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1973 and still maintains the historic light house on the island. The treeless character and grass, forb, and shrub cover provides excellent habitat for nesting seabirds. In 1996, the Service, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and National Audubon Society initiated a tern restoration program on Pond Island. In 1999, ten pairs of common terns successfully nested producing the first tern chick in more than 60 years. Today the island supports about 135 pairs of nesting terns. Common eiders also nest on Pond Island and during the fall migration, a variety of shorebirds, songbirds, and raptors can be seen there.


Getting There . . .
Pond Island is located in the mouth of the Kennebec River 16 miles northeast of Portland and adjacent to Popham Beach. The island can be accessed by personal boat only. Pond island is open during daylight hours from September 1 to March 31 and closed to public access during the seabird nesting season from April 1 to August 31. For more information, contact Refuge Manager at (207) 594-0600, ext.2.


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Wildlife and Habitat

The 10-acre Pond Island is located at the mouth of the Kennebec River in the Town of Phippsburg, Sagadahoc County, Maine. The U.S. Coast Guard transferred the island to the Service in 1973, but maintains the lighthouse and fog signal building. The island is now managed as part of the Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Vegetation on Pond Island is dominated by a variety of mixed grasses. The eastern and northern sides of the island feature steep rock outcroppings, while a small beach is also located on the northern end of the island. The inter-tidal area surrounding the island and on the nearby Popham Beach provide extensive foraging habitat for a variety of migrating shorebirds.

Records indicate that Pond Island supported a large common tern colony until 1937. At that point in time, an expanding population of gulls eventually excluded all nesting terns from the island. The adjacent North Sugarloaf Island supported the largest colony of endangered roseate terns in Maine, until gulls eventually eliminated that breeding colony. In an effort to restore terns to this historic nesting island, the Service and National Audubon Society initiated a seabird restoration project in 1996. Nesting gulls were removed from the island and tern decoys were scattered across the island. Biologists also used a tape recording of an active tern colony to entice the terns back to the island. Our efforts proved successful, when in 1999 Pond Island produced its first tern chick in more than 60 years. The colony has continued to grow and now supports over 300 pairs of terns. In 2003, biologists were thrilled to document the first successful breeding efforts of two pairs of endangered roseate terns on Pond Island. Unfortunately for the terns, great horned owls frequently visit the island to prey on the nesting seabirds. This nocturnal disturbance has limited tern productivity in recent years. In addition to providing important breeding habitat, the island is an important staging area for common and roseate terns in August.

The island also supports nesting common eiders, and Leach's storm-petrels. Sharp-tailed, seaside, and song sparrows, barn, and tree swallows have also been observed nesting on Pond Island. Meadow voles are the only year-round residents that have been noted on the island. Rocky shorelines, swift currents and tides severely limit public use. Access to the island is by boat only, with a limited area of shoreline suitable for safe landing. Pond Island is open during daylight hours from September 1 to March 31 and closed to public use during the seabird nesting season: April 1 to August 31. For more information, contact Refuge Manager at (207) 594-0600, ext.2.

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History
The 10-acre Pond Island is located at the mouth of the Kennebec River, in the Town of Phippsburg, Sagadahoc County, Maine. The U.S. Coast Guard transferred the island to the Service in 1973, but continues to maintain the lighthouse and fog signal. The island is now managed as part of Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Records indicated that Pond Island supported a large common tern colony until 1937. At that point in time, as was repeated along the entire coast of Maine, a growing population of gulls on the island eventually excluded all nesting terns from Pond Island. At one point in time, the adjacent North Sugarloaf Island supported the largest colony of endangered roseate terns in Maine. In an effort to restore terns to this historic nesting island, the Service and National Audubon Society initiated a seabird restoration project in 1996. Nesting gulls were removed and tern decoys were scattered across the island. Biologists also used a tape recording of an active tern colony to entice the terns back to the island. Our efforts proved successful, when in 1999 Pond Island produced its first tern chick in more than 60 years. The colony has continued to grow and now supports over 300 pairs of terns.

Pond Island is open during daylight hours from September 1 to March 31 and closed to public use during the seabird nesting season: April 1 to August 31. For more information, contact Refuge Manager at (207) 594-0600, ext.2.

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Management Activities
The Service works with National Audubon Society to restore seabirds populations and protect wildlife habitats on Pond Island. Each year Audubon researchers and Refuge biologists collect information on seabird populations, food habits, and productivity, and work to control predators such as great black-backed and herring gulls.