Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
The Delaware Birding Trail says it simply. "Unquestionably Delaware's single best-known birding site, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge justifies its fame with exceptional bird and wildlife viewing throughout the year." Read their write up about Bombay Hook NWR.
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is located in central Delaware along the western shore of the Delaware Bay. It was established in 1937 as a link in the chain of refuges extending from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and serves as a sanctuary for migratory waterfowl. Situated on the Atlantic migratory flyway, Bombay Hook refuge has become increasingly important as a stopover for migratory birds, as habitat elsewhere has been destroyed. It is known among birders as an international hotspot and is recognized as one of America's 100 'Important Bird Areas' by the American Bird Conservancy.
Much of the 16,251 acres of the refuge remains pristine. 13,000 acres are tidal salt marsh, considered to be Delaware's most valuable wildlife habitat. Impounded fresh water pools and brushy and timbered swamps cover about 1,100 acres; agricultural fields cover another 1,100 acres; and timbered and grassy upland covers the other 1,100 acres. Such diversity of habitat has resulted in an abundance and diversity of wildlife: 278 species of birds are found on the refuge; 103 of those species are known to breed here. In addition to the birds, 34 species of mammal, 14 species of amphibians, 21 species of reptiles and 21 species of fish are found on the refuge.
Bombay Hook is a great place to study and photograph nature, and to view wildlife in unspoiled surroundings. Visitors may drive, bicycle or walk the public tour route, a 12 mile round-trip traversing the many refuge habitats. Along the route are five nature trails and three observation towers, each overlooking a fresh water impoundment.
The Friends of Bombay Hook, in conjunction with the refuge staff and with the help of refuge volunteers, sponsor many activities at the refuge. Bird walks, refuge tours, field trips and an annual spring festival are held at the refuge each year. These events are free of charge and open to the public.
The historic Allee House, an eighteenth century farmhouse located on the refuge, is open for tours on spring and fall weekends. Sadly, the house has fallen into disrepair in recent years because of lack of federal funding. It is now closed until further notice until repairs have been made.
The refuge, which hosts about 100,000 visitors each year, is open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset. The Visitor Center is open weekdays year round from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM and on spring and fall weekends from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Please see the Visitor Information page for information on fees, facilities, things to do and downloadable refuge brochures and maps.