Important Bird Areas

Charles Island and Silver Sands State Park


Silver Sands is a recently improved state park comprised of wood edge, grassland, beach, and restored salt marsh and dune areas. Walnut Beach is a city beach adjacent to Silver Sands. A small deciduous/pine wooded area is connected to both sites. Charles Island is a state owned island connected to Silver Sands by a sandbar exposed at low tide. The island itself is rocky shore with wooded interior; also the site of ruins of prior human occupation.

Ornithological Summary

This site is a very important area for both wintering and nesting birds. It is also the site of salt marsh and dune restoration conducted by the state. It also provides nesting areas that are relatively isolated from human interference. Charles Island is one of the three largest wading bird rookeries in Connecticut, and is well situated in relation to important wading bird foraging areas at Wheeler Marsh and Stratford Great Meadows, the habitats of Silver Sands State Park also provide foraging opportunities. The marsh and intertidal habitats of the area provide foraging areas for migrant shorebirds, and Least and Common Terns regularly feed in the area in the nesting season. The Piping Plover has nested at Silver Sands in recent years. Silver Sands State Park is one of the most regularly used wintering areas in Connecticut for such winter raptors as Rough-legged Hawk, Snowy and Short-eared Owls. There is a regularly used winter roost for Long-eared Owls in the vicinity. The upland habitats of the State Park provide stopover habitat for landbirds.

Conservation Issues

Charles Island is connected to the mainland by a small sand spit at low tide, but is posted by the CT DEP Wildlife Division as closed to the public during the nesting season. Salt marsh and dune restoration conducted by the CT DEP., predators, pollution, habitat conversion.


State of Connecticut (Silver Sands and Charles Island), City of Milford (Walnut Beach).


Primary: Mix of habitats. Secondary: Conifer forest, deciduous forest, shrub, field, grassland, salt marsh, swamp, estuary, marine.

Land Use

Land Use: Primary: Other recreation or tourism, undeveloped. Secondary: Nature and wildlife conservation, fishing.