Important Bird Areas

Mamacoke Island

Mamacoke Island and Adjacent Coves

Waterford (New London County)

Status: Recognized IBA

Ownership: Connecticut College

Nominator: Robert Askins, Pequot Audubon Society, Department of Zoology, Connecticut College

Size: ~40.5 Acres (island) + aquatic acreage

Location: 41º 23’ N, 72º 6’ W

Secondary—Brackish tidal marsh, estuary, shrub/scrub

Land Use:
Primary—Nature and wildlife conservation, hunting/fishing, research, education

Potential—Development on adjacent and proximal lands

Site Description: Mamacoke Island is an undeveloped island in the Thames River. The island is covered with hardwood forest, and it partially encloses two small coves. It is immediately south of a larger cove, Smith Cove. The island is owned and managed as a natural area by the Connecticut College Arboretum. The coves are public waterways bordered by land owned by the Connecticut College Arboretum, a railroad and (on Smith Cove) numerous homeowners.

IBA Criteria: High Conservation Priority Species; 500+ Waterfowl (winter)/ 1,000+ Waterfowl (staging).

Birds: This complex of coves provides the best habitat for winter-resident waterfowl on the Thames River. Ducks concentrate in this area throughout the winter, but they are most abundant when lakes, reservoirs, and small rivers freeze. The tidal, estuarine waters on the Thames River usually remain open, and the shallow coves provide good feeding areas during these critical periods. The number of ducks in this complex of coves can reach 500 – 1000. This count does not include the large number of Canada Geese and Mute Swans. Notable species are Canvasback (as many as 600) and Hooded Merganser (as many as 176). Two species that are rare in Connecticut, the Redhead and Lesser Scaup, are regular in these coves during the winter. During the summer, these coves and the Mamacoke tidal marsh provide feeding areas for Ospreys, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, and Black-crowned Night-Herons.

Non-avian Resources: Mamacoke Island and the adjacent coves are connected to the mainland by an unditched brackish tidal marsh. Archaeological sites are present on Mamacoke Island.

Existing Conservation Measures: None given

State-listed Species: 






Great Egret, T

Ave. 1-2; Max. 5




Snowy Egret, T

Ave. 2-3; Max. 4




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