Connecticut Audbon Society
Center at Fairfield

Coastal Center at Milford Point

News & Visitor Information at the Coastal Center at Milford Point

A message from the Coastal Center: Baby birds are hatching at Milford Point. Please take extra care if you visit over the Memorial Day weekend

This photo gives you an idea of how well-camouflaged Piping Plovers are.

May 25, 2023 — Piping Plovers and American Oystercatchers, 2 of the highly vulnerable bird species that nest on the Milford Point beach, have just hatched.

Those young birds leave the nest and start to wander almost immediately, so please take extra care if you visit the Coastal Center over the busy holiday weekend.

The safest choice for the young birds would be for you to avoid the sandbar if you visit Milford Point.

There are good observation opportunities from the two dune platforms.

Or visit our other sanctuaries.

All are open dawn to dusk every day. A few late migrants are bound to be around, and many birds are already nesting, so there will be plenty of activity.

The Piping Plovers in particular are tiny and almost perfectly camouflaged.

If you visit the sandbar:

Please heed the warning signs and do not duck under the string fencing. In fact, the baby birds are already scooting beyond the fencing, which puts them in greater peril.

My advice is to walk slowly and watch for movement on the sand.

If you are there to take photographs, please do it quickly and move to your next location.

This recently-hatched American Oystercatcher died several summers ago, possibly because visitors to Milford Point wandered too close and stayed for too long.

Thousands of other shorebirds are at Milford Point now as well, to feed and rest on their northward migration. It’s fine to photograph or view them from a distance. A general rule is if your presence causes the shorebirds to fly away or scatter, you’re too close.

Heed the advice or warning of our field staff, which will be out there all weekend. (And stop to chat and ask questions — they’re all friendly and happy to help.)

All of the shorebirds at Milford Point are protected by the Endangered Species Act or the Migratory Bird Trearty Act or both. They’re all at Milford Point because it’s a safe place to nest, feed, and rest. Please keep that in mind if you visit.

Thank you!

Ken Elkins
Milford Point Coastal Center

Horseshoe Crab Tagging at Milford Point

Project Limulus researchers from Sacred Heart University will share information about this ongoing research and monitoring program studying horseshoe crab ecology in Long Island Sound.  The program will begin with a brief introduction and information session outdoors, then will head to the beach in search of horseshoe crabs. Participants should wear shoes or rubber rain boots that can get wet and sandy, a sun hat and plenty of sunscreen; we will be walking out along the beach. Members $9/person; Non-members $12/person. Pre-registration required. This program is held at The Coastal Center, 1 Milford Point Road, Milford, CT.

Sunday, June 11 9:00-11:00 AM  – REGISTER HERE

Saturday, June 17  1:00-3:00 PM – REGISTER HERE

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, Leeane Marvin

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.

2022 International Big Sit! Birding Challenge

The Surf Scopers Big Sit 2019 photo by Frank Mantlik

The Big Sit! is an annual, international, noncompetitive birding event founded and hosted by the New Haven (Connecticut) Bird Club. This year on October 9th, we hope to break our Big Sit record of 107 bird species seen in 2020, which earned us first place in a competition of 102 teams! We’ll start before dawn and end after dark. We pledge to SIT! (with conviction!) to raise funds to support the Coastal Center.

Please help us by pledging your support. Your tax-deductible contribution allows us to achieve our ambitious goal of raising more than $7,000 by seeing (or hearing) 100+ species from one place in one day at one site near the Milford Coastal Center.

Your generous support allows us to monitor and protect threatened nesting species such as Piping Plovers and Least Terns, to offer adult birding courses, lectures, and field trips, and to deliver school programs to thousands of children annually. This includes the adaptation of our exciting hands-on Science in Nature curriculum, designed to meet the national and state science standards, to meet the needs of in-person or remote classrooms. It is our hope that this curriculum will aid in insuring future generations of conservationists.

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

Please, pledge or donate today. Remember, 100% of your donation to the Big Sit! directly supports the Coastal Center at Milford Point and helps us remain a leader in conservation and experiential environmental education. 

You can pledge online at





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