Welcome to the Thacher Island National Wildlife Refuge, where coastal habitat is actively protected and managed for migratory birds. Its location within the Atlantic Flyway, means the refuge provides an important resting, feeding, and nesting habitat for many species of songbirds and shorebirds. Off-shore habitats are used by seals, waterfowl, loons, grebes, cormorants and alcids.

Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Located just thirty miles north of Boston, Thacher Island NWR is home to herring and great black-backed gulls. Established in 1972 to provide feeding, resting and nesting habitat for migratory birds, the refuge claims the northern 22-acres of the 52-acre island, located approximately one mile off the coast of Rockport, Massachusetts. Thacher Island also has a rich cultural history, perhaps best symbolized by the twin lighthouses that continue to grace its rocky landscape.

Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      Located just thirty miles north of Boston, Thacher Island NWR is home to herring and great black-backed gulls. The refuge serves as a stopover site for songbirds and other migrants to rest and feed during their seasonal migration. Off-shore habitats are used by seals, waterfowl, loons, grebes, cormorants and alcids.

      What We Do

      Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
      A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

      Learn more about national wildlife refuge
      is established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species.

      Our Species

      Roseate Tern
      FWS Focus
      Common Tern
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      American Oystercatcher
      Identification Tips: Length: 16 inches Large shorebird Bright orange, long, thick bill Head and breast black Dark gray back and wings White belly Large white patch on inner wing White uppertail coverts and dark tail Pink legs Adult: Yellow eye Orange orbital ring Juvenile: Eye dark and orbital ring...
      FWS Focus

      Get Involved

      Whether you want to further conservation, learn more about nature or share your love of the outdoors, you’ve come to the right place. National wildlife refuges provide many opportunities for you to help your community and fish and wildlife by doing what you love.