Connecticut Audbon Society
The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

News & Information at the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

Federal funds will go toward major conservation and education improvements at the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

Federal funding will goes towards habitat improvements that will make the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center a better place for birds like this Great Egret to hunto for food. Photo by Patrick J. Lynch.

March 25, 2024—Two environmental improvement projects planned for the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center in Old Lyme have been awarded funding from the federal government.

The Estuary Center will receive $800,000 to improve bird and wildlife habitat. This includes controlling invasive species, restoring native vegetation, and bolstering the shoreline against rising sea levels. The funding will also allow for creation of a nature trail on the 5-acre sanctuary. The funding was directed by Congress from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal Zone Management program. 

In addition to the conservation funding, the Connecticut Audubon’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center will also receive $500,000 from the Department of the Interior’s Historic Preservation Fund. This funding is directed by Congress to address climate control and energy efficiency for its historic building in Old Lyme.

The tentative start date for the conservation work is spring 2025.

The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center is located within the vast and ecologically rich Connecticut River watershed. The area includes NOAA’s new National Estuarine Research Reserve. It is a part of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. The Lieutenant River provides access to the refuge’s 56-acre Roger Tory Peterson Unit.

“Both projects will be transformative for the center, the community, and for birds and other wildlife,” Joyce Leiz, Connecticut Audubon Society’s executive director, said. “We are grateful to our Connecticut delegation, particularly Congressman Joe Courtney and Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal as well as Representative Rosa DeLauro, for recognizing the conservation and historic value of the projects and for securing the funds.”

The property in Old Lyme serves as an education center offering science-based environmental education programs for children and adults, including classes, after school and vacation programs, summer camp, and workshops and lectures.

Formerly the Bee and Thistle Inn, the 1756  building is on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as an education center offering science-based environmental education programs for children and adults, including classes, after school and vacation programs, summer camp, and workshops and lectures. The building houses an important collection of original work by Roger Tory Peterson, the noted ornithologist, artist, author and conservationist who lived and worked in Old Lyme.  

“This funding will be used as part of a master plan to renovate the building. The result will be more educational opportunities for more residents of southeastern Connecticut and beyond,” Leiz said. “The conservation project will serve as a model for sustainable land management practices and have ongoing volunteer,  demonstration and educational components for the community.”

The Connecticut Audubon Society, founded in 1898, protects Connecticut’s birds, other wildlife and their habitats through conservation, education, and advocacy. Its Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center protects the environment of southeastern Connecticut  with a particular focus on the estuaries and their important ecosystem functions. 

Other centers and programs of Connecticut Audubon are located in Sherman, Milford, Essex, Pomfret, Hampton, Fairfield, and the greater Hartford area. 

Who We Are

At the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, we dedicate ourselves to future generations through experiential education and conservation of our land, waters, and the species that inhabit them.

The future for the RTP Estuary Center is bright and strong!  As we move forward, we will implement the strategies we have learned, invest in our team and communities and continue to advocate for and protect our environment.

We believe that learning should be joyful. We are always focusing on innovating and believe in the programs we provide. We have high-quality standards and that will continue. We hope to launch new research programs based around the NERR, further expand our reach and develop meaningful partnerships as collaboration is a cornerstone of RTP Estuary Center. We have big goals and dreams and are grateful for your continued support! 

The RTP Estuary Center is named for internationally and locally renowned artist, scientific illustrator, environmental educator, and conservation advocate Roger Tory Peterson.

 Click here to read about our education team.

Click here to read about our Board of Directors

Join the RTP Estuary Center team!

Job Opportunities


Click here for Volunteer Opportunities and to apply!

For more information contact Heather Kordula, Education Program Director at or call 860-598-4218.

Thank You To Our Sponsors! 

Click Here to Read More About Our Sponsors


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

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 or 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.


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.


RTP Estuary Center In The News!

Senator Blumenthal & Governor Lamont, along with the Old Lyme Selectmen, join Environmental Advocates and CT Audubon on the 2nd Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Governor Ned Lamont joined, state and local elected officials and leaders from Connecticut environmental nonprofits at The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center on Friday, August 12, 2022, to celebrate the recent conservation and open space preservation projects that have been empowered by the Great American Outdoors Act.

The Great American Outdoors Act, signed into law in August of 2020, utilizes revenues from energy development to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) which invests in conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the country. In Connecticut, the LWCF has been utilized to preserve wildlife habitats, protect clean water, and provide critical climate benefits and access to nature for the 2.4 million people who inhabit the Connecticut River watershed region. The funding has protected nearly 1,000 acres of the Conte Refuge, which encompasses the entire 4-state Connecticut River watershed.








Summer Camp at the RTPEC

We’re nearing the last couple of weeks of summer camp here at the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center in Old Lyme, and we’ve had a blast! From searching for fiddler crabs to creating habitat dioramas, our campers have experienced a wealth of different hands-on activities, and made new friends along the way. A couple of weeks ago we had a reporter from the CT Examiner stop by to learn about all of the fun we’ve been having. Check out the full article here to get a glimpse of what we’ve been up to! 





News Release: Connecticut Audubon Agrees to Buy a Former Inn in Old Lyme as Headquarters for its Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

Plans are for the former Bee and Thistle Inn to become the new home of the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center.

November 2, 2020 — The Connecticut Audubon Society and its Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center will soon have a great new facility in Old Lyme to continue to carry out the regional conservation, science research and education work that began five years when the RTPEC was established.

The organization has reached an agreement to buy the former Bee and Thistle Inn, at 100 Lyme Street. The plan is to create an environmental education center for people of all ages. It will become the estuary center’s new headquarters and will include a room for public talks and workshops, a location for summer day camp, and a staging area for research on the ecology of the estuary. 

The RTPEC offices, which are currently at 90 Halls Road, will move to the new facility as well.

Click Here to Read More



A Tribute to Eleanor P. Robinson, Co-Founder of RTP Estuary Center

It is with sadness and a deep sense of loss that we bring news that our friend, board colleague, and co-founder of the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, Eleanor Robinson, died on January 2nd at her home in Old Lyme.  

Eleanor Perkins Robinson arrived in Old Lyme with an understanding and affection for this place on the banks of the Connecticut River Estuary.  She constantly reminded us of the uniqueness of the estuary and its role in the nature, culture, commerce, and history of the region we call southeastern Connecticut.  She had a sense of purpose to create an environmental center which would provide science-based environmental education for our children, expand the environmental literacy of our adult population, and promote research and stewardship all designed to encourage conservation of our resources.  She called the estuary “Connecticut’s Crown Jewel” for its nearly unspoiled attributes as nursery, habitat, feeding and breeding grounds for innumerable varieties of fish, birds and other wildlife. This treasure, she insisted, must be preserved.

Click Here to Read More





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