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Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge


This is one of the premier birding and wildlife sites on the Eastern Shore. In addition to a visitor center, that many consider one of the finest in the national wildlife refuge system, the 1200-acre Eastern Shore refuge provides viewing access to significant expanses of salt marsh, grasslands, loblolly pine forests, bayberry thickets, barrier islands, and freshwater and brackish ponds. The refuge functions as a major site for observing large numbers of migrating raptors and migrant wood warblers. The refuge has a bird list that comes close to 300 species and the area is a critical staging zone for fall migrants. American kestrel, osprey, Cooper’s hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, merlin, and peregrine falcon are some of the birds that can be seen here during fall raptor migration. Piping plover and least tern occasionally turn up here, and Wilson’s plovers nest on the nearby barrier islands, as do the threatened loggerhead sea turtles. The refuge represents one of the last unspoiled, pristine barrier island/coastal marsh habitats remaining on the Eastern Seaboard, and its ecological significance can only be expected to increase with the passage of time.

This Refuge also offers seasonal guided tours (October – February) of Fisherman’s Island National Wildlife Refuge, the Eastern Shore’s southernmost barrier island. Note: Advance registration is required for these tours. Call the Refuge to schedule.

When visiting the refuge, you may also want to check out the Sunset Beach Resort on the other side of US 13, just after crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. This resort site has a private beach on the bay side of the Eastern Shore and provides a premier vista for sunsets. Kayak rentals available next to the resort provide perhaps the best medium for exploring wildlife in the region. The edge of the property abuts the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge and provides easy viewing of wood warblers and other migrants during spring and fall.


Physical Address: 32205 Seaside Rd, Cape Charles, VA 23310

The Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge is located off Route 13 in Virginia just north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Take Rt 13 to Seaside Road. Follow Seaside Rd (Rt 600) east less than a 1/4 mile to the intersection with Visitor Center Access Rd. Turn right towards the visitor center. Parking will be on the right.

Location & Directions

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Site Information

  • Site Contact: 757-331-2760, ext 116;
  • Website
  • Access: Free, Daily

Birds Recently Seen at Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge (as reported to eBird)

  • Mourning Dove
  • Clapper Rail
  • Willet
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Herring Gull
  • Forster's Tern
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Black Vulture
  • Osprey
  • Red-tailed Hawk

Seasonal Bird Observations


  • Visitor/Nature Center
  • Environmental Study Area
  • Accessible
  • Hiking Trails
  • Information
  • Interpretive Nature Program
  • Interpretive Trail
  • Parking
  • Restrooms
  • Kayak/Canoe Launch
  • Viewing Blinds
  • Observation Platform
  • Boat Ramp