National Wildlife Refuge
|316 Marsh Causeway
Knotts Island, NC 27950 - 0039
Phone Number: 252-429-3100
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge is located along the Atlantic Flyaway providing wintering habitat for migratory waterfowl.|
Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge
Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1960 to provide habitat for migratory waterfowl, primarily the greater snow goose. Located between Back Bay in Virginia and the Currituck Sound in NC, the refuge is comprised primarly of marsh habitat. This area has long been recognized for supporting significant migratory waterfowl populations and sport fishery resources.
The refuge is strategically located along the Atlantic Flyway, making it an important wintering area for ducks, geese, and tundra swans. At times, flocks of over 12,000 snow geese may be observed on the refuge after their arrival in November. Many other wildlife species such as wading birds, shorebirds, raptors, neotropical migrants, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians use refuge habitats for food, cover, and nesting. A pair of bald eagles also nest on the refuge.
About 74 percent of the refuge is slightly brackish marsh habitat, dominated by cattails, black needlerush, and giant cordgrass. The remaining habitat includes farmland, marsh impoundments, brush and typical upland and lowland Eastern pine-hardwood forest. Vegetation in these areas includes loblolly pine, sweet gum, black gum, cypress, red maple, hickory, and oak.
Getting There . . .
Mackay Island NWR is located near Knotts Island, NC. From Princess Anne Road in Virginia Beach, VA, travel south. Once in NC, this road is called NC Highway 615 South. The office entrance road is located on the right about 1 mile south of the state line. The refuge may also be reached by taking the free ferry from Currituck, NC. Once on Knotts Island, you can reach the office entrance road by traveling 9.2 miles on NC Highway 615 North. The ferry has a 45-minute crossing time, and leaves Currituck, NC at 6 am, 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 3:30 pm, and 5:30 pm, 7 days a week.
Get Google map and directions to this refuge/WMD from a specified address:
Learn More >>
Maintaining healthy wildlife populations and conserving and enhancing wetland habitats are the main goals of the refuge's management program. These goals are accomplished primarily through water management, farming, and prescribed burning.
About 800 acres in four main wetland impoundments are managed for moist soil plants or submerged aquatic vegetation. This is accomplished by seasonal manipulation of impoundment water levels. Vegetation sampling and water quality monitoring are conducted periodically in all refuge wetland and open water habitats.
About 200 acres of upland habitat is managed under a cooperative farming program. The program is managed to provide a supplemental food source for wintering waterfowl and to help limit crop depredation by waterfowl on nearby private lands.
Six-thousand acres of marsh habitat are managed with prescribed fire (about 2,000 acres burned annually on a 3-year rotation) to provide feeding habitat for wintering snow geese, to stimulate growth of beneficial plant species, to control pest plants (phragmites), and to prevent wildfire danger to adjoining private lands.
Annual wildlife surveys for wintering waterfowl are conducted to obtain population trend information. Osprey and wood duck nesting structures are maintained and surveyed annually to monitor nesting success. Wood ducks are trapped and banded as part of a national inventory program.