Through the seasons many species of birds flock to the beaches, marshes, dunes and bays of Assateague Island. Here they find abundant food—-fish, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, and small mammals. Binoculars and a field guide will enhance your ability to identify and enjoy Assateague's birds. Pictured here are three of the more than 200 species that are known to frequent the island.
Have you noticed broken clam shells on the paved road? They were probably dropped by the herring gull who has learned this ingenious method for cracking shellfish. When a first attempt fails to open a shell, a persistent gull will carry it higher until he succeeds.
Herring gulls are abundant as Assateague all year. Adults may be recognized by their black wing tips and pink legs. Gulls under two years old are usually mottled gray.
Dunlins are medium-sized sand-pipers with bills curved slightly downward. Groups may be seen at the surf's edge feeding on tiny marine organisms in the sand.
Dunlins nest by standing on one leg with heads tucked on their backs. Like other shorebirds, dunlins change color with the seasons. They are commonly seen, except in summer.