Connecticut Audbon Society
Center at Fairfield

Coastal Center at Milford Point

Birds & Plants at the Coastal Center

Adopt a Purple Martin Gourd!

Martins perching. Photo © Frank Mantlik

Play a direct role in conservation by adopting a Purple Martin gourd!
Your adoption will help maintain the structures and support the staff effort to monitor and clean the nests each week — essential tasks for protecting Purple Martins.

Supporting the colony also makes a great gift for members of your family or friends!

To adopt a gourd, click HERE.


Once again, a Roseate Spoonbill visits Connecticut and the Milford Point Coastal Center

For the 4th time in 6 years, a Roseate Spoonbill is visiting Connecticut. This photo was taken in 2018 by Lesley Roy.

August 25, 2023 — A young man and his father saw it first yesterday afternoon, from the observation tower at the Milford Point Coastal Center: a Roseate Spoonbill, far off in the marsh.

The bird flew west, and Frank Mantlik, a member of Connecticut Audubon’s regional board for the Coastal Center, and at least five other birders found it shortly before dusk at Short Beach, Stratford. This morning, the bird was back in the marsh at the Coastal Center.

Roseate Spoonbills are year-round residents further south — North Carolina is the upper limit of its range. But birds wander north after nesting season, and it seems to be happening more often and further north.

Connecticut had no record of Roseate Spoonbill until September 2018, when one spent three weeks or so in and around the Coastal Center and near the mouth of the Housatonic River in general. This year’s bird is the fourth to visit the state in the last six years.

Among those who climbed the observation tower at Milford Point to see the Roseate Spoonbill on Friday were Tom Murray, taking a break on the bench, and Ellynne Plotnick, right. Photo by Stefan Martin.

Frank Mantlk took to eBird to describe what he saw at Short Beach: “Immature roosting in trees, with 8 Snowy Egrets, at N edge of old landfill along shore of tidal lagoon/marsh at N end of park. I first spotted it from near airport along Rt 113 (illegal to stop vehicle), then found a place within park to view it. Large long-legged pink-winged and white-bodied wader, a bit larger and longer winged than SNEG (i.e., Snowy Egret), with distinctive long, spatula-shaped bill.

“I got word out, and about six other birders arrived in time to see it. Eventually some of the egrets left the roost, then at 7:14pm, the Spoonbill and the last egret flew east over the tidal channel right past us.”

We will continue to provide updates.

Sign up for Connecticut Audubon’s Rare Bird Alert. We’ll keep you updated via text on the whereabouts of the Roseate Spoonbill and other rarites as they occur.

Purple Martin hatchlings photographed by Frank Mantlik on June 29, 2023. The 70 gourds at the Coastal Center held 30 active nests with 82 chicks and 39 eggs that day.

Purple Martin
Progne subis

Look for Purple Martins in and around any of several dozen colonies of man-made houses or gourds throughout Connecticut.

In the eastern U.S., these large swallows are completely dependent on man-made houses (though out west, they nest in natural cavities too).

All the successful colonies in Connecticut are near water. The birds soar and glide over lakes, tidal marshes, and grassy and shrubby fields, searching for flying insects, especially dragonflies, often at such heights that they’re impossible to see with the naked eye.

There’s a colony of 71 gourds at the Coastal Center at Milford Point. Connecticut Audubon staff and volunteers check the nests weekly throughout the breeding season.

All told, there might be as many as three dozen colonies in the state, including smaller and newer colonies at the Center at Pomfret and Deer Pond Farm, and well-established colonies at Sherwood Island and Hammonasset State Parks, and at the Quinebaug Valley Fish Hatchery in Plainfield. Kent seems to be a particularly good area for them.

Lori Romick and Stefan Martin are part of the crew that checks the Coastal Center’s Purple Martin nests each week. Photo by Frank Mantlik.

July 6, 2023 — Eighth report for the 2023 Purple Martin nesting season.


On June 29, Connecticut Audubon’s Habitat Steward Stefan Martin and volunteers Lori Romick and Bev Propen joined me in conducting our eighth nest check of the colony this year. The weather was pleasant with overcast sky, 75F, and SW wind at 6 mph; mid-tide falling. 

We saw at least 45 adult Purple Martins in flight, including two or three color-banded birds (orange or red). Several adults were seen bringing in small dragonflies to feed their growing chicks. There were 30 active nests with 82 chicks and 39 eggs!

The video camera, which you can view above, is operating in gourd #26, giving a glimpse at both parents caring for their 5 chicks. The female was seen regurgitating small prey to feed her small chicks.

Many thanks to the terrific team of staff and volunteers that monitors this important colony. And thanks to those who have “adopted” one or more nest gourds with a contribution.

Frank Mantlik
Purple Martin Team Captain
Coastal Center Advisory Board member 

Other Species

A total of 315 bird species have been seen at the Coastal Center. Ospreys nest in the marsh. Highly vulnerable species such as Piping Plovers and American Oystercatchers nest on the beaches. Snowy Owls often spend the winter in the area. Thousands of shorebirds congregate in August and September.

The nearby waters of Long Island Sound and the Housatonic River are rich in oysters and clams. The dune habitat supports rare plants. A thriving population of Purple Martins occupies a colony at the edge of the marsh.

Four observation platforms are available to wildlife viewing, as are the beaches. We also have a newly-established pollinator garden. We ask visitors to keep a respectful distance from all wildlife.




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