Important Bird Areas

Cove Island Park

Stamford (Fairfield County)

Status: Recognized IBA

Ownership: City of Stamford

Nominators: Michael Moccio and Patrick Dugan

Size: 83 Acres

Location: 41° 03’ N, 73° 30’ W

Habitats: 10% deciduous forest, 10% shrub, 5% field, 10% grassland, 5% non-tidal freshwater marsh, 10% salt marsh, 20% pond/lake, 30% estuary

Land Use:
Primary—recreation and tourism
Secondary—nature and wildlife conservation, hunting/fishing, undeveloped

Serious—Development of adjacent lands, disturbance to birds or habitat
Minor—Invasive or non-native plants, introduced animals, Cowbird parasitism, predators
Potential—Pollution, habitat conversion, hydrologic changes

Site Description: The 83-acre park is owned by the City of Stamford. The park offers swimming, boating, walking, biking, roller-blading, picnicking, ice skating, birding, photography, and fishing. The remarkable thing about Cove Island Park is the diversity of habitats within the park. These include, sandy and rocky beaches, salt marsh, mud flats, estuary, a large pond (Holly Pond), the last undeveloped sand dune in Stamford, woods, cut lawn, fresh water wetlands, meadows, brushy areas, and a planned butterfly garden (29 species of butterflies have been identified here).

IBA Criteria: Rare, Unique, or Representative Habitat; Exceptional Concentrations of Migratory Landbirds.

Birds: The Park is not only unique in its number of habitats, but also its rareness in the Stamford area. There are no similar local habitats. Similar but not as diverse habitat may be found at Greenwich Point Park (5 miles to the southwest), Sherwood Island in Westport (20 miles to the northeast) and Pelham Bay, New York (30 miles to the south). These long distances are critical after a night of migration for migratory songbirds. Flying longer distances could mean death for numerous birds. Many species return year after year during the spring and fall migrations since the park is situated on the coastal migration paths. This is readily evident looking at the checklist, which lists 287 species documented over the last 15 years. Holly Pond provides foraging habitat for wading birds in the nesting, and post-nesting seasons, it also provides habitat for many waterfowl and gulls in the winter and migration seasons.

Non-avian Resources: Over 50 species of butterflies have been recorded in the park. The park is an important recreational resource for Stamford and southwestern Connecticut. There is a nonprofit environmental education center in the park operated by SoundWaters.

Existing Conservation Measures: A 10-acre undeveloped area of the park is being proposed to the City of Stamford as a bird or nature sanctuary. Audubon has teamed up with GE Elfun Volunteers for several conservation and education projects in the park.

State-listed Species:






Great Egret, threatened

, foraging



Snowy Egret, threatened

, foraging



Common Tern, Special Concern



How you can help, right now