Wildlife & Habitat

Salt marsh - Matt Poole/USFWS.
  • Sick and injured wildlife


    Refuge staff frequently receive reports of injured and/or “abandoned” wildlife. Sometimes these animals are encountered on the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. More frequently, the reports are about animals that are found somewhere else – like in a park or in someone’s backyard.

    Regarding animals that appear to be “abandoned,” the good news is that they generally aren’t. What do you do? The best advice is almost always going to be to leave the animal alone, as the parents are usually nearby and have NOT abandoned their young.

    More about sick and injured wildlife

  • Saltmarsh Sparrow

    Saltmarsh Sparrow

    Even though this little brown bird migrates twice each year, its entire life is spent in salt marshes. Because its life cycle is so closely tied to salt marshes, it is vulnerable to multiple threats including habitat loss, effects of climate change (sea level rise and increased frequency of intense storms), and contaminants (or pollution). Biologists are closely monitoring the sparrow population that breeds at Parker River. One of the things they are investigating is why the sparrows at the refuge have elevated levels of mercury in their bloodstream.

  • Piping Plover

    Piping plover

    The Atlantic coast population of this small shorebird was listed as threatened on the Federal Endangered Species List in 1986. As with so many other species in decline, plover populations plummeted primarily due to habitat disturbance and loss. Plovers arrive to breed and nest on the refuge beach beginning in late March. Refuge management efforts focus on minimizing human-caused disturbance by restricting public access to the refuge beach during this critical time. Predator controls are also put in place as warranted. Breeding success is closely monitored by refuge biologists throughout the spring and summer months.


    Frequently Asked Questions About the Beach Closure and Piping Plover Management  (PDF)

    Piping Plover "QR Codes" Sheet (with links to piping plover related on-line content)  (PDF)