Congress established Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge on December 30, 1960, to protect migratory birds and their habitats and conserve endangered and threatened species. The refuge is located on Knotts Island in Currituck County, North Carolina, and includes lands in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The refuge attracts tens of thousands of mallards, teal, gadwall, and wood ducks during the winter. During the summer, a diversity of marsh birds can be found on the refuge. The refuge has recorded 187 species of birds, and is home to a variety of reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Conservation agencies and organizations have listed many bird species found on the refuge as high priority or rare and of special concern, including king rail.
National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Mackay Island NWR is perfect for nature photography, birding, hiking, biking, and wildlife observation, featuring concentrations of snow and Canada geese, ducks, warblers, osprey and other raptors, wading birds, and shorebirds, along with a variety of reptiles, amphibians and mammals.