Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail

Site Information

  • Seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring
  • Site Contact: (757) 331-2760
  • Site Access: Free, Daily
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Site CES02: 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. The hawk observatory counts more than 80,000 raptors in the annual fall migration. A banding station, directed by the Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory ( at the refuge, regularly nets 800-plus birds annually. American kestrel, osprey, Cooper's hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, merlin, and peregrine falcon are some of the birds that can be seen here. 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. When visiting the refuge, be sure to check the Sunset Beach Resort Best Western Motel on the other side of US 13, just after crossing the bay bridge tunnel. This motel/resort site has a private beach on the bayside of the Eastern Shore and provides a premier vista for sunsets. Kayak rentals here 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.


Continue on US 13N from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel for 15.5 miles. Turn right at the sign for the refuge, about 0.5 miles past the end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

Loop Map