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Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge

Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge, also known as Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, protects over 47,000 acres of coastal habitat. It is only minutes from Smithville, so it makes for a nice day trip if you are staying in the area. Since it is actively managed to attract and protect migratory birds, it is an excellent location for bird watching. Monarch butterflies also use the refuge as part of their migratory route. Even when birds are not migrating, Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge is home to many unique species of birds. From Great Blue Herons to tiny Hummingbirds, you can see birds in all shapes and sizes. There are pairs of Ospreys that nest there and make the refuge their home. Many birds of prey can be seen here, along with waterfowl, and warblers. Bird Watchers abound at the refuge.

The Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge/Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge consists of brackish marshes and rivers going out to the bay. There is a main road that does a U around the waterways, going out almost to the bay before it curves back to the main land. With marshes and waterways surrounding you, there is plenty of waterfowl to see on the trip. There is also towers in locations along the auto route so you can get out and really get a "birds eye view."

There is an entrance fee to get into the refuge. You can call Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge: 609-652-1665 for more information and the amount of the fee.

Seasonal Sightings at Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge

Summer: Turtles can be seen sunning themselves on rocks. Blue herons, snowy egrets, and great egrets abound. Eastern kingbirds perch on branches watching the water for their next meal. Butterflies flutter around the water edges. Red winges black birds make their beautiful calls while hanging on a tall blade of marsh grass or a cattail. Comorants dive underwater and come up minutes later with a fish in tow.

Fall: A variety of colorful birds, butterflies and plants are on display as migration begins. Fall colors are plentiful from the forests surrounding the marshes. Monarch butterflies migrate through the refuge. Ducks and geese begin making their way into the refuge, where they will spend the winter. Watch for bird of prey soaring through on their migratory path.

Winter: Hundred to thousands of black ducks and Atlantic brants winter at Forsythe. Bald eagles, short-eared owls, buffleheads, common goldeneyes, horned grebes, and red-breasted mergansers are also among the cold weather sights. Wintering songbirds can be seen along the hiking trails, and diving waterfowl abound in the back bays.

Spring: The sound of peepers and laughing gulls fill the air. Ospreys return to their nests to have their young. There is a live Osprey cam in the visitor center. Beach nesting birds arrive and purple martins return to their nests located near the visitor's center. Diamondback terrapins can be seen bobbing in the creeks. The females will come ashore to lay their eggs.