Connecticut Audbon Society
Center at Fairfield

Coastal Center at Milford Point

News & Visitor Information at the Coastal Center at Milford Point

Due to Covid-19, the Coastal Center is running outdoor programming only and asking participants of those programs to practice social distancing and wear masks; see below for our current programs. The Center building is closed.  We look forward to resuming normal business hours in September. 
The Nature Store has items available for pre-order and pick up. Click 
HERE for details.

Click HERE for listing of current programs.




Martins perching on June 26, 2020. Photo © Frank Mantlik

Connecticut Audubon Society
Coastal Center at Milford Point
September 3, 2021

The Purple Martin colony at the Coastal Center had a very successful nesting season. The nest gourds were installed April 2, and the first returning “scout”,
a male, was seen April 15. By the end of April, 25 Martins were counted. The first nests were started mid-May, and the first eggs were laid around June 1. The number of active nests grew to 44 by June 25. A total of 191 eggs were laid, the first chicks hatched about
June 15, and the first few chicks fledged about July 8.

On July 16, our team (augmented by Milan Bull, Deidra Wallin, and Chris Cerillo) assisted CT DEEP biologists in banding 86 chicks – with federal numbered aluminum and orange-colored leg bands – which were then returned to their respective nests. This is one of the largest Purple Martin colonies in Connecticut.

Overall, an estimated 120 chicks fledged (the last one fledged on or about August 1). The adult and young Purple Martins are well on their way to their wintering territory in the Amazon River basin of South America. Have a safe journey, and we will see many of you back in Milford next spring!

Thanks to all the staff and volunteers who helped with this project, including conducting weekly nest checks, and maintaining and cleaning the 71 gourds: Stefan Martin, Milan Bull, Kat Gillis, John Mager, Lori Romick, George Amato, Gilles Carter, and Pam Landry.
Thanks also to all the people who made a donation by adopting one or more gourds. Your support makes this important project possible. 

Frank Mantlik
Coastal Center Advisory Board Member
Milford Purple Martin Team Leader

Purple Martin Nest Check © Frank Mantlik

Purple Martin parents waiting 7/16/2021. © Frank Mantlik

CT DEEP Purple Martin banding tent at the Coastal Center @Frank Mantlik









Nesting season is finished for this year but please watch for updates next spring about how you can 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 check the nests each week — essential tasks for protecting Purple Martins.

Purple Martins are completely dependent on human-made structures, either boxes or gourds, for their survival.

This species was listed as “threatened” in Connecticut until about six years ago. Because of its increasing population, largely the result of the careful management of colonies, its status was changed to “special concern.” 

The team at work checking, cleaning and keeping records at the colony. Photo © Frank Mantlik

Purple Martins have declined in many areas nationwide, including Connecticut and New England. According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, competition with invasive House Sparrows and Starlings for nesting space, and pesticides poisoning their food supply are contributors to their decline.

Purple Martins are beautiful, much-admired songbirds, and these popular swallows are sought after as backyard birds all across the U.S., particularly in the south and east. They feed only on flying insects. They are often mistakenly thought to control mosquitoes. That’s not quite true. They feed on a much wider variety of insects including dragonflies, which themselves feed on mosquitoes.

Purple Martins are not easy to attract, requiring certain habitat and landscape conditions, usually open areas near water, but once a colony is established, they will return every year to breed and raise their young. 


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.



25th Anniversary Photo Contest Winners

Thank you to those that submitted photographs to the Coastal Center’s 25th Anniversary Photo Contest.  After careful review of the submitted entries, we have the pleasure of announcing the winners of each category.

We wish to thank Milford Photo for their partnership in the contest, providing the prizes for the winners and for the judging process.



Matthew Collen – submission 3

photo by Matthew Collen










1st Prize – Scott Burton, Submission 1

photo by Scott Burton











2nd Prize – Michael Lello, Submission 3

photo by Michael Lello









3rd Prize – Sandy Schill, Submission 5

photo by Sandy Schill













1st Prize – Kara-Lynn Flockhart, Submission 1

photo by Kara-Lynn Flockhart





















2nd Prize – Beth Malarkey Maroney, Submission 3

photo by Beth Malarkey Maroney











3rd Prize – Gretchen Hayden, Submission 1

photo by Gretchen Hayden











1st Prize – Mathew Collen, Submission 4

photo by Matthew Collen










2nd Prize – Sandy Schill, Submission 1

photo by Sandy Schill









3rd Prize – Song Teoh, Submission 1

photo by Song Teoh









1st Prize – Lily Flockhart, Submission 2

photo by Lily Flockhart



















2nd Prize – Keren Tan, Submission 1

photo by Keren Tan










3rd Prize – Lily Flockhart, Submission 1

photo by Lily Flockhart




















Many thanks to photo contest judge Elisa Deely of Milford Photo
Elisa is a Connecticut-based photographer who received a BFA in photography from the University of Hartford in 2019. Typically, her images are shot on location and taken with a 6×6 or 4×5 camera. Her work focuses on domestic and mundane spaces. She is currently working as a Photo Editor and Fine Art Printer at Milford Photo.



25th Anniversary Challenge

Join the 25thAnniversary Challenge! You can help us launch our next 25 years by donating any multiple of $25 in honor of our 25thAnniversary.

We also hope that you will post the link below to your social media pages.

Click here to make a Donation to the Coastal Center at Milford Point

As many of you know, the Coastal Center is a hidden gem located next to the Charles Wheeler Salt Marsh and Wildlife Management Area at the mouth of the Housatonic River.

For 25 years the Coastal Center at Milford Point has been a popular educational facility for children and adults, promoting awareness and fostering the preservation of Long Island Sounds ecosystem, birds and other wildlife inhabitants.

The Center now reaches thousands of school children annually with both on-site and outreach programs. Our summer camps, public programs and wildlife sanctuary serve as a resource for many statewide conservation efforts.

Thousands of visitors and birders come to the sanctuary year–round, with this year having record breaking numbers.

You made it possible for us to keep our grounds open when state parks were closed and we are committed to being here for you for years to come.

We need you now more than ever!

Your support has made amazing things happen at the Coastal Center over the past 25 years, and we have a lot more that we can do!

Click here to make a donation to the Coastal Center at Milford Point’s 25th Anniversary Challenge.




The Connecticut Audubon Society Celebrates 25 Years of Education and Conservation in Milford

From left: Connecticut Audubon Society Executive Director Patrick Comins, Alderman Marty Hardiman, Alderman Frank Smith, Milford Mayor Ben Blake, Coastal Center Board Chair June Renzulli and Southwest Regional Director Shari Greenblatt.

The Connecticut Audubon Society celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Coastal Center at Milford Point with a small gathering of dedicated friends, neighbors and supporters on Wednesday, October 21. The afternoon, outdoor event was the kick-off to acknowledge a milestone that will be recognized with other events and activities in the year ahead.

Against the background of the Charles Wheeler Salt Marsh and Wildlife Management Area, Milford Mayor Ben Blake presented a proclamation affirming the Center’s “esteemed services for the past quarter century.” In his remarks, Blake emphasized the value of Connecticut Audubon’s presence in the Milford community saying, “The Coastal Center has been a treasure for kids and students of all ages.”

Connecticut Audubon’s Southwest Regional Director Shari Greenblatt expressed disappointment that, “due to the pandemic, we could not invite all our members, volunteers and supporters to be here today to thank them in person for all the ways they have contributed to the Center’s growth and success. The Coastal Center is a gem in Milford that we are very proud of, but it’s taken the work of many people to achieve this together.” 

During this anniversary year, the community and Connecticut Audubon supporters will have additional chances to participate in the celebration. Announcements will be made soon about an upcoming photo contest in partnership with Milford Photo, and a “25 for 25 Fundraising Campaign.”

For 25 years, the Coastal Center at Milford Point has educated children and adults, promoting awareness and fostering the preservation of Long Island Sound’s ecosystem, birds and other wildlife inhabitants. Greenblatt said, “The Center now reaches thousands of schoolchildren annually with both on-site and outreach programs. We also offer summer camps, public programs, and a wildlife sanctuary that serves as a partner in many statewide conservation efforts and which is treasured by birders and other visitors year-round.”

Designated an Audubon Important Birding Area in 2002, the Coastal Center at Milford Point received the Best Recreational Award for 2020 from the Milford Chamber of Commerce and Milford Living Magazine, and was listed as Number 5 in the Top 15 Things to Do in Milford by the Crazy Tourist website.

The Connecticut Audubon Society conserves Connecticut’s environment through science-based education and advocacy focused on the state’s bird populations and habitats.


The Big Sit Bird Challenge!

Thanks to your generous donations, we surpassed our goal of $5000 and had a successful day of identifying birds!

Your support made a difference and we could not have done it without you.

During The Big Sit. Milford Point, Milford, CT. 11 Oct 2020. © Frank Mantlik

Sunday, October 11 was a great weather day, with warm temperatures in the mid 60’s and favorable skies and winds. The core team consisted of Frank Gallo, Jim and Patrick Dugan, Tina Green, and Frank Mantlik. We began at 4:19 a.m. and ended at 7:15 p.m., about 15 hours of straight birding. 

Several visitors/birders came by throughout the day to cheer us on, bird, or bring provisions. Thank you all!

The predawn birding was superb, listening for nocturnal migrants, night birds, and ducks and other water-birds in the marsh. The calm night air allowed us to hear calling migrant Swainson’s, Gray-cheeked, and Hermit Thrushes, as well as a hooting Great Horned Owl, Clapper Rails and many duck and heron species. 

Our final tally was 108 bird species identified including a Jaeger species, a tie for our third highest Count.

Highlights included 12 species of ducks (including 7 Northern Shovelers and all three Scoter species), Wild Turkeys, 12 species of shorebirds (including American Golden Plover and Pectoral Sandpiper), a Jaeger species (rare in CT) far out over the Sound, a record number of Common and Red-throated Loons, Great Cormorant, American Bittern, 6 Bald Eagles, a Great Horned Owl, 2 Purple Finches, flocks of Pine Siskins, 7 species of sparrows, Baltimore Oriole, 5 species of warblers, and a Rusty Blackbird. An exciting highlight was watching a Peregrine Falcon chasing a migrant Red Bat at dawn, right near our Sit platform!

Our complete list, with photos, is here:

This is a wonderful way to kick off our 25th Anniversary.

Thank you for your generosity and support!    

During The Big Sit. Milford Point, Milford, CT. 11 Oct 2020. © Frank Mantlik

The Big Sit during the Coronavirus pandemic. Milford Point, Milford, CT. 11 Oct 2020. © Frank Mantlik

During The Big Sit. Milford Point, Milford, CT. 11 Oct 2020. © Frank Mantlik

What to do with “abandoned” or “orphaned” birds

The best advice is to leave baby birds, like this Purple Martin, when you found them. Photo by Stephanie Galea/The Connecticut Audubon Society

The CT DEEP has excellent advice for what to do if you find an “orphaned” bird. Click this link. Photo by Stephanie Galea/The Connecticut Audubon Society

May 6, 2020 — Have you found an abandoned bird?

Birds and other wildlife that seem to be abandoned or orphaned at this time of year often are not actually abandoned orphaned.

The Connecticut DEEP has advice about what to do if you find a bird that you think is abandoned. There are several alternatives.

Click here to learn about them.

Please do not bring injured or orphaned animals to any Connecticut Audubon Society facility. Connecticut Audubon is not authorized to accept injured or abandoned animals.

But if it is obviously injured, it may need help. The CT DEEP has more information here about dealing with distressed wildlife.


The Regional Water Authority partnered with the Coastal Center to urge residents to curb water use.

This week the Regional Water Authority partnered with the Coastal Center to urge residents to curb water use. Media coverage featured Connecticut Audubon’s SW Region Director Shari Greenblatt, and volunteer Lori Romick, explaining the savings and conservation benefits the Center has seen since adopting the use of rain barrels donated to the Center several years ago by the RWA.


Mobile App

Explore our centers and sanctuaries on your mobile device

Soar through our centers and sanctuaries with this free app, which highlights unique and interesting features at each stop. Take one of our tours while you’re onsite or plan ahead with detailed directions and maps to your nearest Connecticut Audubon location.

Features include:

  • Tours of our Centers and Sanctuaries
  • Bird IDs with photos and descriptions
  • Tips on how to create a native garden for birds and pollinators
  • Interactive maps



For Android and other non-Apple devices, visit the web-based app. Software platform © Cuseum, Inc.


This App was made possible by Planet Fuel Charitable Fund.

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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