Red knots, a "Species of High Concern," at Mispillion Harbor.
At A Glance
"It is not an exaggeration to say that the few acres of beach in Mispillion are critical to the survival of the American red knot. There is no other site of similar size anywhere in the world on which a whole bird population depends. When the weather is bad the protected beaches in the harbor allow the crabs to continue to spawn and provide a lifeline to the knot." — Nigel Clark, ornithologist.
Is saving one mile worth the effort? It is at Mispillion Harbor, a critical stopover for the red knot. With threats to coastal lands and declining red knot populations, the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan recognizes this vulnerable bird as a “Species of High Concern.”
Among shorebirds, the red knot has a distinct migratory talent: annually, in both spring and fall, at least 97 percent of migrating red knots gather at the same coastal migratory sites. An estimated 80 percent of migrating red knots use Mispillion Harbor as a feeding and resting area during the bird’s annual migration from South America to its Arctic breeding ground. When a critical beachfront property became available, the necessary funds and conservation expertise were needed to protect it.
Working with the state of Delaware and a private landowner, we protected approximately one mile of critical shoreline, a vital stopover point for numerous migratory shorebird species including the red knot. This location is ideal for the small, grey-winged shorebirds because it includes habitat for thousands of spawning horseshoe crabs. The red knot feeds on crab eggs, getting the fuel needed during its only stop on the long journey north for the summer. After purchasing the property from a willing landowner, we transferred it to the state of Delaware.
Now this one-mile of critical habitat for imperiled wildlife is permanently protected, ensuring generations of outdoor enthusiasts will get to watch and enjoy this unusual bird.