Bird Watching

A diving northern gannet plunges into the ocean to capture prey
A diving northern gannet plunges into the ocean to capture prey. Photo: Rob MacDonald

While Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary has gained fame as a world-class whale watching destination, it can also claim the distinction of being an exciting location for bird watching. The rich waters provide a mix of plankton and small fish that attract a wide variety of species. Sanctuary waters serve as either a summer or winter feeding ground or as a stopover point for migrating birds. Birdlife International, through a nomination by Mass Audubon, named Stellwagen Bank an Important Bird Area (IBA).

For serious birders and bird lovers the sanctuary offers a Stellwagen Sanctuary Seabird Stewards program. This volunteer citizen science/community science effort aids the sanctuary science team by identifying species, estimating abundance, developing datasets, and helping to analyze the information. This information may prove significant as birds provide an early indication of environmental change.

A “Seabirds 101” webinar from NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries educational webinar series provides an overview on seabirds and their adaptations with a focus on species in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

Learn to identify the birds you see on a trip into the sanctuary with our Guide to Stellwagen Sanctuary Birds.

Pick up some tips on photographing seabirds from a 2020 Get Into Your Sanctuary webinar on the National Marine Sanctuary Facebook page.