Connecticut Audbon Society
Center at Fairfield

Coastal Center at Milford Point

News & Visitor Information at the Coastal Center at Milford Point

Support the Big Sit!

The Big Sit! A great chance to support bird conservation

Help the Coastal Center’s Birds by Supporting the Big Sit Bird Challenge!

On October 8, 2023, the Connecticut Audubon Society’s B.W. Surf Scopers birding team (Frank Gallo, (Captain), Jim and Patrick Dugan, Frank Mantlik, Tina Green, Tom Murray and George Amato) is working to support the Coastal Center at Milford Point. Our goal is to raise more than $7,000 (what we raised the last two years) by spotting as many different species of birds as possible from within a 17-foot diameter circle as a part of The Big Sit! They’ll start before dawn and end after dark. They pledge to SIT! (with conviction!) to raise funds to support the Coastal Center. Please help them by pledging your support. Your tax-deductible contribution allows them to achieve their ambitious goal of raising $7,000 by seeing (or hearing) 100+ species from one place in one day at one site near the Milford Coastal Center.

Every dollar you pledge will help us sustain our important, far-reaching, education and conservation efforts.


Rare bird alert: Once again, a Roseate Spoonbill visits Connecticut and the Milford Point Coastal Center

The Roseate Spoonbill stands on the mudflats next to a Laughing Gull at Milford Point on Sunday, August 28. Photo copyright Frank Mantlik.

August 28 Update
The spoonbill is still around — it was in the big marsh at the Coastal Center again today, at 3 p.m.

About 30 people were at Milford Point late yesterday afternoon to watch the Roseate Spoonbill from the Coastal Center’s observation tower.

Whether at Short Beach or Lordship Marsh in Stratford, or at Milford Point, the spoonbill has generally roosted and fed at a considerable distance, the result being that good photos have been hard to come by.

Observers who were at the Coastal Center yesterday watched the bird as it foraged on the mudflats. Near the end of the day it flew east and alighted in a group of trees often used as egrets as a roosting spot.

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.

Register: Canoe Tour Center Canoes 9.10.22

Coastal Center Canoes We provide the PFDs, paddles, canoes.  When you register for a Coastal Center canoe, you are registering for either a 2 or 3 person canoe. The registration fee includes all the people in the canoe. You are responsible for bringing the necessary people required to paddle your canoe.

  • Pre-registration required. Walk-ins not permitted.
  • Launching is not permitted at the Coastal Center at any time unless you are pre-registered with our group.

2-person Canoe: Members $70; Non-members $95
3-person Canoe: Members $90; Non-Members $125

Volunteer for habitat improvement work at Milford Point

Northern Mockingbird, photographed by George Amato near the Coastal Center’s recirculating waterfall, is one of the native bird species that benefit from habitat improvements.

August 18, 2022 — The last several years have seen great improvements at the Milford Point Coastal Center. But there’s more to be done — and you can help.

We are recruiting volunteers to help remove invasive plants and replace them with native plants, which have much higher conservation value.

It is the kind of hands-on work that makes an immediate difference not just for birds but for pollinators, small mammals, and other wildlife as well.

Our goal is to establish a corps of volunteers to help on an ongoing basis, starting in the fall of 2022. The crew will work at the direction of habitat steward Stefan Martin, who is overseeing improvement projects at several Connecticut Audubon sanctuaries.

If you can help or you’re interested in learning more, please email our volunteer coordinator, Erika Pollock,

Hot days at the cool coast for New Haven campers

Feet in the cool water, kids from the Sound School Eco-Adventure Camp in New Haven search for creatures of the tidal area at the Milford Point Coastal Center.

August 8, 2022 — Seventy-five kids from New Haven day camps got a bracing taste of Long Island Sound’s wildness this summer at the Coastal Center at Milford Point.

The kids, who were enrolled in New Haven Eco-Adventure camps, each spent a couple of hot mornings feeling the cool breezes. They waded in the lapping waves and explored the marsh, learning about the plants and animals that live on the Sound’s shore.

The visits were a collaboration between the Connecticut Audubon Society and New Haven Youth and Recreation camps, whose director of outdoor adventures, Martin Torresquintero, is a member of the Connecticut Audubon Board of Directors. The Greater New Haven Green Fund sponsored the visits.

The campers were from the Trowbride Environmental Center at East Rock Park (ages 8-11), the Sound School on New Haven harbor (9-12) and the extreme camp at West Rock Park (12-15). Each made two visits, on different days.

“Even the teenagers were getting into it and having a good time,” one of the camp directors, Kate Reamer, joked.

It’s no wonder. Among the highlights were sessions with a seineing net on the Milford Point sandbar, where every haul revealed a writhing jumble of Sound life that visitors otherwise would not see. Puffer fish. Silversides. Pipefish. Asian shore crabs. Comb jellies. Lion’s mane jellies. Killifish.

The campers compared the differences between the Sound side of Milford Point and the marsh, where they found Asian shore crabs, mud snails and hermit crabs.

“Not all the kids had a whole lot of experience at the shore,” Kate said last week. “One boy in my group yesterday held a crab for the first time, a fiddler from the salt marsh.”

Campers dug along the edge of the sandbar. Among the animals they found were fiddler crabs and Asian shore crabs.

Catie Resor, an education program manager for Connecticut Audubon, ran the program, with help from Coastal Center Director Ken Elkins, teacher-naturalist Jenn Silberger, and councelors from each New Haven camp.

This was the second summer Connecticut Audubon collaborated with the New Haven recreation camps. The hope is to secure funding to expand the program, both at the Coastal Center and at the New Haven camps themselves.

Coastal Center Sanctuary Rules

Please be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules of our grounds before your visit:


















If you have any questions, please contact the center.



Summer Camp 2022

Sessions run weekly June 20 – August 19


For complete information and to register click HERE

Campers will explore, discover, and learn about the natural world.


For questions, email our summer camp director

Summer Camp is held at the Coastal Center at Milford Point, 1 Milford Point Road, Milford, CT 06824

Support the Coastal Center

Thank you for your support during the Garafalo Markets ShopRite’s register campaign! You raised more than $27,000 in support bird conservation and environmental education at one of the state’s most important nature preserves, the Coastal Center at Milford Point.



Wakefern Food Corp./ShopRite supports Coastal Center programs.





This year funding from Wakefern Corp/ShopRite sponsored our 25thAnniversary programming
which included an inaugural photo contest, a relaunching of our guided canoe and kayak trips and our ever-popular bird walks.

25th Anniversary Grand Prize photo by Matthew Collen

Bird walks at the Coastal Center feature a stop on the beach over-looking the marsh-lined lagoon.

A relaxing paddle in the Wheeler Marsh

Coastal Center at Milford Point – Big Sit! Update

The final bird count is in!  

Our birding team, B.W. Surf Scopers, participated in yet another The Big Sit! competition on Sunday, October 10, 2021. The core members Frank Gallo, Jim Dugan, Patrick Dugan, and Frank Mantlik were grateful for the participation by birders Tom Murray and Stefan Martin. We started at 4:37 a.m., birded over 14 hours straight, then quit at 7 p.m. We tallied 82 species.

Unfortunately, the weather was less than ideal. While the temperatures were seasonable 58-64F, it was mostly cloudy and humid, the winds were strong from the ENE (10-23 mph) all day, and it rained 11:45 a.m. -1:30 p.m. The tide was exceptionally high (3 p.m.), flooding the salt marsh and washing over the road and the sandbar. To read more including ebird list and photos click here 

If you’ve already supported our wonderful Big Sit team, we thank you. And if you haven’t yet donated to this fundraiser, please consider doing so and help us reach our goal!

So far we’ve raised $7,110 and have surpassed our goal of $7000!

We cannot do this without you, and we thank you in advance for your generosity!

Your generous support helps us sustain our important, far-reaching, education and conservation efforts

Click here to help the Coastal Center by making a Big Sit donation.

The Big Sit Platform, October 10, 2021

The Big Sit 2021 birders: Patrick Dugan, Frank Mantlik, Jim Duggan and Frank Gallo













General Information

The boardwalk leading to the Sound. Photo courtesy of Anthony Donofrio.

Connecticut Audubon Society’s Coastal Center at Milford Point is located on an 8.4-acre barrier beach, next to the 840-acre Charles Wheeler Salt Marsh and Wildlife Management Area at the mouth of the Housatonic River.

The Coastal Center promotes the awareness and preservation of Long Island Sound’s ecosystem, and the birds and habitats it supports. Visitors to the center have access to the Sound and to tidal salt marshes, barrier beaches, tide pools, and coastal dunes.

The Coastal Center is a bird-watcher’s paradise – 315 species have been seen here, including many rarities.

We offer a full range of educational programs and events for families, children, and adults.

The Coastal Center provides educational exhibits, a tide pool demonstration tank, a salt-marsh laboratory, and program and meeting rooms.

The Coastal Center’s grounds encompass the 8-acre Smith-Hubbell Wildlife Refuge and Bird Sanctuary, a boardwalk and three other observation platforms, including a 70-foot covered  tower for panoramic vistas.

Viewers from around the world watch the Center’s seasonal Osprey Cam, operated from our 18-foot tall nesting platform.





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