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.

The refuge was established in 1972 to provide feeding, resting and nesting habitat for migratory birds, 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.

Our Mission

Refuge Purpose(s) 

Each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System is established to serve a statutory purpose that targets the conservation of native species dependent on its lands and waters. All activities on those acres are reviewed for compatibility with this statutory purpose.

The purpose of this unit is… 

“…for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds.”  16 U.S.C. Sec. 715d  (Migratory Bird Conservation Act) 

Our History

The Thacher Island Association web site is chock-full of interesting information about the history of the island, the former Coast Guard Station, and the twin lighthouses.

Other Facilities in this Complex