December 20, 2021|By Val Keefer| Wildlife

Big Effort for a Little Shorebird



Mispillion Harbor attracts thousands of shorebirds each May and is one of the most important migration stopovers on the East Coast for the imperiled red knot. This small but mighty shorebird completes a marathon migration from South America to its breeding grounds in Arctic Canada every spring. Mispillion Harbor is also home to horseshoe crabs that spawn during the spring migration, usually just in time for the birds to feast on eggs and restore the energy needed to complete their journey.

Recognizing this ecosystem’s critical role in the lifecycle of crustaceans, shorebirds, and more, we worked for over 15 years with our partners to protect this wildlife sanctuary in perpetuity. While still a threatened species, scientists say that conservation efforts like those at Mispillion Harbor have helped the bay’s red knot population recover by more than double since the early 2000s.

12 20 21 Shorebirds Ann Marie MorrisonFlickrPhoto by Ann Marie Morrison/Flickr.

“Mispillion Harbor is one of the most important sites in the entire Delaware Bay region. This site in particular—because it’s so protected from the elements—is key. Horseshoe crabs can breed here with consistency, providing an abundance of eggs for shorebirds to feed on. This site has always been at the top of the list.”

– Blaine Phillips, The Conservation Fund


Delaware journalist Jon Hurdle recently visited with us at Mispillion Harbor to learn more. Read or listen to his account via Delaware Public Media.
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In loving memory of Bill Stewart, a renowned ornithologist who helped identify Mispillion Harbor as a place critical of protection. The site will soon be dedicated in his name.


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Written By

Valerie Keefer

As Media Relations Associate for The Conservation Fund, Val conducts media outreach, drives press activities and supports messaging strategies across the organization. She enjoys sharing the Fund’s holistic approach to environmental conservation and economic growth with the community and communicating the local and global impact of the Fund’s many projects. Val is an avid nature enthusiast who loves camping, hiking and rock climbing.