Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is located in the southeastern corner of the City of Virginia Beach. The refuge was established in 1938 to protect and provide habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl. Diverse habitats, including beachfront, freshwater marsh, dunes, shrub-scrub and upland forest are home to hundreds of species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and fish. Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge encompasses over 9,200 acres of beach, dunes, shrub-scrub, freshwater wetlands and woodlands. The main part of the wildlife refuge sits a thin strip of barrier island coastline typical of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Other areas of the refuge include islands in Back Bay and upland areas on the west bank of the bay. The refuge was established for migratory birds, particularly waterfowl, or ducks, geese and swans. Thousands of tundra swans, snow and Canada geese and a large variety of ducks visit the refuge during the fall/winter migration. Refuge waterfowl populations usually peak during December and January. The refuge also provides habitat for other wildlife, including such threatened and endangered species as the loggerhead sea turtle, and recently recovered species like the brown pelican and bald eagle. In addition to providing habitat for migratory birds and wildlife, Back Bay NWR provides over eight miles of scenic trails, a Visitor Center, interpretive programming and, with advance scheduling, environmental education opportunities. Popular outdoor recreation activities at the refuge include hiking, biking, freshwater fishing, surf fishing, kayaking/canoeing, wildlife photography and wildlife observation. Refuge grounds are open daily sunrise to sunset.
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