Share Our Shores

How to have a bird-friendly visit to the beach


Parker River NWR

Walk Around the Flock

Birds rest in large flocks on dry sand, and it is important to give them the space they need to feed, nest, and rest.  To make sure we are not disturbing birds that are roosting and feeding, please walk on the wet sand and around shorebird flocks.

Parker River NWR photo by Kiah Walker

Give Birds Space to Feed and Rest

You can help protect shorebirds by walking around their flocks so they don’t take flight.

The birds you see today have flown thousands of miles to get here. Parker River National Wildlife Refuge serves as an important stop-over for shorebirds to feed, rest, and refuel in preparation for their non-stop flight to South America. 

Knowingly or unknowingly, visitors can disturb shorebirds over 100 times a day and prevent birds from getting the rest and food they need to survive.

Shorebird infographic

What Does Disturbance Look Like?

Activities that seem harmless, like kids chasing birds, can actually cause a lot of distress to shorebirds. Next time you are at the beach, watch out for these signs that a bird is disturbed:

  • Did the bird fly away when you approached it?
  • Did the bird stop feeding and start walking away or look at you on alert?
  • Did the bird call out or act like it was injured to draw you away from its young?

If you noticed any of these bird behaviors, then you are probably too close. Try rounding your path to make a smiley face around the flock. 

An Important Place for Birds

The semipalmated sandpiper is a small bird that weighs less than a slice of bread, and you may have seen one here on the shore of Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. While these birds are tiny, the journeys they take to get here are anything but small. Every year, semipalmated sandpipers fly over 2,000 miles from their breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic to arrive at Parker River. 

The time these birds spend on our beaches are critical to their survival. Our beach provides birds with the necessary space to feed, rest, and recharge before they take off for their next journey 2,500 miles away. In just four days, semipalmated sandpipers take off from Parker River, fly over open ocean, and arrive at Suriname and French Guiana before continuing to their winter home in Brazil.

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Featured Video

Home Sweet Home

Limiting bird disturbance during migration

Shorebirds face many threats during migration including loss of habitat, hunting, predation, climate change, and human disturbance that keeps them from the food they need to survive.

Help keep shorebirds safe at Parker River by walking around flocks of birds and leaving your dogs at home during your visit to our beach. 


To help shorebirds on their amazing journey, I pledge to:

  • Walk around feeding shorebirds
  • Keep a safe distance from resting shorebirds by walking in the wet sand and around flocks of birds
  • Tell my family and friends about the importance of walking around shorebird flocks and giving birds the space to feed, nest, and rest

Contact Information

Parker River NWR –