Home arrow Community Guide arrow Shoreline Access Points arrow Coastal Birding in Rhode Island
Coastal Birding in Rhode Island

Rhode Island has a long and varied coastline that provides excellent birding opportunities throughout the year.

Each season offers its own species: songbirds and shorebirds that migrate up the coast in spring, wading birds and terns that nest here in summer, hawks and swallows that funnel down the shore in fall, and waterfowl that spend winters here.

Fig: BirdReturn visits to each of the birding hot spots listed below are likely to result in different species in each season. The viewing spots, all accessible by car or by a relatively short walk, range from tidal marshes and brackish ponds to rocky shorelines, barrier beaches, mud flats, and fresh water. The diverse habitats are the reason for the variety of birds.

The Audubon Society of Rhode Island (ASRI), in cooperation with the Rhode Island Ornithological Club, publishes a Checklist of Rhode Island Birds that lists 322 species that may be seen in the state at varying times through the year, along with 90 other species that have wandered here but are only rarely found. The checklist is available at ASRI’s nature shops (12 Sanderson Road, Smithfield, and 1401 Hope St., Bristol).

Birding programs are offered by ASRI, the Norman Bird Sanctuary, Save The Bay, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. These interpreted walks often use coastal access points as destinations.

A good field guide and a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope are usually the only equipment needed, but also take along an updated visitors’ road map since space here does not permit detailed directions to the suggested viewing areas. Among the best bird identification guides for use in Rhode Island (also available at ASRI and other nature shops, as well as at most commercial bookstores) are the following:

  • Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds East of the Rockies
  • The Sibley Guide to Birds
  • National Audubon Society Field Guide to Birds, Eastern Region
  • Stokes Field Guide to Birds, Eastern Region
  • National Geographic Society Field Guide to the Birds of North America.

Coastal Birding Hot Spots in Rhode Island:

  • Napatree Point, Westerly
  • Weekapaug Breachway, Westerly
  • Quonochontaug Pond and Breachway, Charlestown
  • Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge, Charlestown
  • Charlestown Breachway and Marsh, Charlestown
  • Green Hill Pond, South Kingstown
  • Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge and Moonstone Beach, South Kingstown
  • Matunuck Management Area and Succotash Marsh, South Kingstown
  • Fig: BirdGalilee Bird Sanctuary, Narragansett
  • Point Judith and Camp Cronin, Narragansett
  • Pettaquamscutt Cove and Middle Bridge, Narragansett
  • Rome Point and Bissell Cove, North Kingstown
  • Apponaug Cove, Warwick
  • Conimicut Point, Warwick
  • India Point Park, Providence
  • Seekonk River, Providence/East Providence
  • East Bay Bike Path: Watchemoket Cove to Boyden Conservation Area, East Providence
  • Touisset Marsh Wildlife Refuge, Warren
  • ASRI Environmental Education Center, Bristol
  • Colt State Park, Bristol
  • Fogland Point, Tiverton
  • Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge, Tiverton
  • Seapowet Marsh, Tiverton
  • Nannaquaket Pond, Tiverton
  • Sakonnet Point, Little Compton
  • Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, Middletown
  • Brenton Point Park and Ocean Drive, Newport
  • Marsh Meadows, Fox Hill Pond, and Sheffield Cove, Jamestown
  • Beavertail State Park, Jamestown
  • Block Island National Wildlife Refuge, New Shoreham

-Audubon Society of Rhode Island