Wildlife & Habitat

  • New England Cottontail

    New England cottontail - USFWS.

    Numbers of native New England cottontails are decreasing because of habitat loss and competition from the introduced eastern cottontail. The eastern cottontail adapts more easily to residential and disturbed habitats than does the New England cottontail, who prefers very dense shrublands.

  • Narrow-leaved Cattail

    Narrow-leaved cattail - USFWS.

    This is the only species of cattail in North America that can thrive in brackish (somewhat salty) water. It grows as high as 6 feet. Migrating waterfowl love to dine on its roots. Cattails are a sign of a healthy salt pond.

  • Piping Plover

    Piping plover and chick - USFWS.

    After a male piping plover clears a small nesting area near the first seaside row of dunes, a female lays camouflaged eggs, usually four. If a fox or another predator approaches, she moves off the nest and displays a broken wing act worthy of an Academy Award, designed to lure the intruder away from her eggs. Hours after they hatch, plover chicks leave the nest to feed. Their trips to the ocean’s edge can be dangerous when they have to dodge people and dogs. The chicks are so well camouflaged that, before nesting areas were closed to the public, these “walking cotton balls” were often killed by beach-going vehicles.

  • Coastal Shrubland

    Coastal shrubland - USFWS

    These rare habitats provide food and cover for wildlife, including species-at-risk like the Grasshopper Sparrow, whose numbers have severely declined. Shrublands also serve as refuges for native warm-season grasses and rare plants. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helps wildlife in this crucial habitat in many ways. It removes Asian Bittersweet and other invasive plants that overtake native vegetation. The staff teach about conservation and ethical practices. And they help landowners to protect their coastal habitats.

  • Salt Pond

    Salt pond  - USFWS.

    This valuable habitat serves as a “supermarket” for countless migratory birds and fish. Depending on how often they are connected to the sea, some salt ponds can support oyster/quahog aquaculture. Salt ponds are commonly referred to as an underwater jungle. Take time to enjoy the reflections of tall wading birds on peaceful waters. Below the calm surface, an eelgrass jungle is a nursery for baby bluefish and striped bass. Like moss growing on trees, algae – food for snails – grow on eelgrass blades. On the floor of the pond, blue crabs eat young clams and occasional seaweed salads.

  • Barrier Beach

    Barrier Beach

    This valuable habitat provides homes for plants and animals as diverse as the mole crab and wolf spider. They are crucial habitats where migrating shorebirds, including the threatened piping plover, rest and eat. Barrier beaches also act as buffers, protecting places where people live, work, and play from the full force of ocean storms. Powerful winds and waves constantly reshape this habitat. Here, change is absolutely the only constant. Notice how winter storms attack the barrier beach and rob it of its sand. Then, gentle summer surf replaces lost sand.