Description - Parker River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1942 primarily to provide feeding, resting, and nesting habitat for migratory birds. Located along the Atlantic Flyway, the refuge is of vital stopover significance to waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds during pre- and postbreeding migratory periods.
The refuge occupies in part, the southern three-fourths of Plum Island, an 8 mile long barrier island near Newburyport, Massachusetts. Excellent wildlife-oriented recreational and educational opportunities are available with visitor facilities and programs provided to enhance your experience.
- Located on a coastal barrier island, the refuge consists of a range of habitats including salt marsh, beach/dune, freshwater marsh/pool, and grassland.
The Parker River NWR was established to preserve habitat for migratory waterfowl, especially American black duck. The refuge important nesting area for the threatened piping plover and least tern. The refuge also provides important resting/feeding habitat for shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, and passerines.
Major wildlife management programs include those related to the piping plover (beach closure, predator control, monitoring), white-tailed deer (monitoring, control), waterfowl (banding, surveying), and marsh/pool habitat (pest plant control, water level manipulation).
Recreation - The refuge provides wildlife-oriented recreational opportunities including waterfowl and deer hunting, surf fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and shellfishing. Beach use (swimming, sunbathing, beach combing), bicycling, and other non-wildlife oriented activities occur. The refuge receives about 275,000 visits per year.
Climate - Massachusetts experiences four distinct seasons with slightly varying temperatures in the inland and coastal regions. Along the coast the water is a moderating factor that often prevents large amounts of snowfall from accumulating through the winter. Summer temperatures are usually cooler than low lying inland areas, due to ocean breezes. This region of the country experiences high humidity in the summer season and temperatures that average close to 80 degrees F. Fall and Spring are pleasant times to visit the region with crisp air and low humidity. Brilliant foliage colors can be found in the central and western regions of the state in late September and October. Winter temperatures can be brutally cold on occasion with a humidity-filled wind, but on average winter daytime temperatures reach 35 degrees F and lows reach into the teens. Spring is usually the wettest time of year, but trees, bushes and flowers are blooming by early May.
The refuge is located approximately 35 miles north of Boston. From Interstate 95 take exit 57 and travel east on Route 113, then continue straight onto Route 1A South to the intersection with Rolfe's Lane for a total of 3.5 miles. Turn left onto Rolfe's Lane and travel 0.5 miles to its end. Turn right onto the Plum Island Turnpike and travel 2.0 miles crossing the Sgt. Donald Wilkinson Bridge to Plum Island. Take your first right onto Sunset Drive and travel 0.5 miles to the refuge entrance.