Birds In Ipswich


Shane Seaman

There are very few places where the presence of wildlife is customary in your daily life. Where interesting species can be found just by simply exploring fairly close to home. Whether it be the great marshes or the sand dunes, you’ll find that many eccentric species of feathered friends have made their home right here in Ipswich.

Birds can be seen almost everywhere. You could be looking out your bedroom window, walking down the street, or just taking a walk and you’ll most likely encounter a bird. Depending on the species, they can be incredibly common, but here in Ipswich they’re incredibly rare and even endangered birds have been spotted in numerous areas. These birds range from the Piping Plovers that make their homes in the dunes of Cranes Beach, to the marvelous snowy owl that can occasionally be seen in Ipswich. Even the mighty Bald Eagle has made its way into Ipswich. I myself have seen one flying over the Ipswich River!

So what types of species can be found in our town? Well the list of each individual species is incredibly long. When placed into broad categories the list includes hawks, wrens, thrushes, warblers, turkeys, ducks, vultures, wigeons, pigeons, geese, owls, herons, egrets, gulls, sparrows, crows, ravens, cuckoos, kestrels, plovers, cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers, finches, sandpipers, nuthatches, chickadees, vireos, hummingbirds, swallows, crossbills, mockingbirds, and many many more. There has been a recorded 277 different bird species currently living in Ipswich making it an ideal place to visit if you enjoy bird watching.

“Getting back to our amazing estuary, the reason we have so much biodiversity and Ipswich clams is because of the great marsh.  We have an unusual flow of energy on a salt marsh.  There are very few herbivores that directly consume the salt marsh hay and the primary productivity of a salt marsh is very high”, says Mr Chmura. The marshes, swamps, floodplain forests, and other wetlands provide homes for all these species of birds. Places such as Bald Hill, Willowdale State Forest, Norwond Pond, Cranes Beach, Bradley Palmer State Park and the Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary are all homes to different types of unique birds.


Our Salt Marshes also provide a temporary home for the rare Snowy Owl. Typically arriving in Massachusetts during November until April, Snowy Owls move south in search of food. Their habitats mimic that of the arctic tundra so a Snowy Owl could be spotted in our marshes or in areas such as Plum Island and Cranes Beach in the colder months.

“The biodiversity in the estuary of Plum Island sound where the Parker and Ipswich river mix with the  ocean waters is similar to that of a tropical rainforest!  If you grow up in Ipswich you may not realize how special this place is until you move away and begin to compare it with other natural places”, says Mr Chmura, “Additionally, we tend to take the wildlife for granted because they are common here.” The wildlife we have here in Ipswich is remarkable. Compared to other towns in New England, Ipswich is truly unique.