Description - Bombay Hook NWR, located on the western shore of Delaware Bay 8 miles southeast of Smyrna, Delaware, was established in 1937 to provide habitat for migratory waterfowl. Objectives have since broadened to include other migratory birds, a diversity of other native wildlife species and wildlife-oriented public use.
Copyright: Patty Elton - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Canadian Geese preen themselves at sunrise
Large areas of pristine tidal salt marsh, freshwater impoundments and moist soil units, croplands and woodlands are managed for Canada geese, greater snow geese, a variety of ducks, shorebirds, wading birds and songbirds. A pair of bald eagles nests each year west of Shearness Pool and in recent years has been quite successful in producing young. Over the last 15 years the refuge has supported the largest concentration of wintering greater snow geese in the continental United States. Through active water level management in pools and recently constructed moist soil units, duck populations have increased to peaks in the 50,000-75,000 range. During May and June, primarily due to the arrival of horseshoe crabs laying eggs along the bay shore and mudflats, thousands of shorebirds (red knots, ruddy turnstones, dowitcher, dunlin, sandpipers etc.) stop to feast before continuing their northward migration. Herons, egrets and ibis congregate on refuge mudflats created by pool drawdowns during the summer months.
Bombay Hook is comprised of a mosaic of habitat types. Over 13,000 acres of the 15,978 acre refuge is tidal salt marsh, much of it never having been altered for mosquito control, a rarity in the northeast and middle atlantic region. There are 1155 acres of freshwater pools, 1100 acres of farmland and scattered small blocks of hardwood forest and brushlands.
- The public is welcome to visit the refuge for wildlife observation, nature study, and photography year round during daylight hours.
Visitor facilities include a visitor center, auto tour route, observation towers, and nature trails. Bear Swamp Trail and the Visitor Center are handicapped accessible. A cassette tape interpreting the auto tour is available.
The Visitor Center is normally open Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM and on spring and fall weekends, from 9 AM to 5 PM. It is closed on summer and winter weekends. Tours, habitat studies, nature walks, and audiovisual programs are available to groups upon advance request. Volunteer, teacher, and leader workshops are offered in the spring and fall. General public programs are offered during special event days such as Earth Day, Migratory Bird Day, National Wildlife Refuge week and the annual field day. Volunteers staff the Visitor Center, conduct environmental education programs, lead activities during special events, assist with wildlife surveys and provide trail maintenance.
A 12-mile round-trip auto tour route and several nature trails (ranging from 0.25 to 1 mile in length) provide opportunities to observe and photograph wildlife. Three of the trails also have 30-foot observation towers. The historic Allee House is open for tours on spring and fall weekends from 2 PM to 5 PM.
Public hunting, primarily for waterfowl and deer, is permitted under special regulations on portions of the refuge during the Delaware state season.
Recreation - Bird watching, nature study, hiking, touring on foot and / or vehicle, viewing a historic home, and hunting is available to the public.
Climate - The Chesapeake and Delaware Bays moderate Delaware's climate. The state experiences four distinct seasons. Winter can be bitterly cold. Highs during this season average near freezing with low temperatures near 0 degrees F. Spring comes to this region in mid to late March. This is a pleasant time to visit with moderate temperatures and low humidity. Summer brings temperatures ranging from 80 to 90 degrees F. Humidity is highest inland with ocean breezes cooling the shoreline. Fall brings cooler temperatures and low humidity. The forested regions of the state often have brilliant foliage displays.
The refuge is located several miles east of the capitol city, Dover resting on the shores of Delaware Bay.