Skip navigation

A few years ago Smyrna, Delaware was voted one of the top

“”small towns”” in America. When you visit the town, it’s very

easy to see why. Smyrna has a home-town feel to it. Even

though it has a fairly small poulation, it is very

accessible. One of the popular …

attractions is the Bombay

Hook National Wildlife Refuge. The Wild Life Refuge is

within 1 1/2- 2 hour drive from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and

the South Jesey area.

Been there, done that… and visited other wildlife refuges?

This is not your ordinary place to view wildlife. Bombay

Hook plays a critical role for thousands of migratory and

waterfowl birds. Every year over 17,000 visitors come to

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge to view wildlife, in

their natural environment.

Bombay Hook has a very interesting story. It was established

and purchased with Duck Stamp revenues from the Migratory

Bird Conservation Fund. It is a major link in the chain of

refuges that extends from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

There are millions of ducks and geese that use the refuge as

a stop-over or as a place to ride out the winter.

Although the refuge is open year-round, the best time to see

this spectacular site is in October and November. This is

the time that the waterfowl populations are at their peak.

There is also another smaller spike in the population which

occurs in March. This is when the birds are returning to

their northern breeding grounds. The refuge is first and

foremost a breeding ground for migrating birds and other

wildlife. Bombay Hook has become extremely important for the

protection and conservation of waterfowl.This is due to

urban and industrial development.

The refuge covers approximately 16,000 acres. About

four-fifths of it consists of tidal salt marshes. One of

the largest areas of nearly “”natural”” tidal salt marsh in

the mid-Atlantic region resides within the refuge.

Additionally, Bombay Hook has 1,100 acres of impounded fresh

water pools, 1,100 acres of agricultural lands, with wooded

and grassy land and swamps. The general terrain is flat and

less than ten feet above sea level. So bring a good camera

and pair of binoculars, because the views are breathtaking.

Take the auto tour to get as close to nature as possible

without scaring the birds and animals away. The Auto Route

is only a 12-mile round trip. The tour route passes by the

four freshwater impoundments.There is plenty of room to to

stop and view the always-present water birds and animals

that are feeding or resting. Depending on the season,

visitors can easily spend a half-day or more traveling the

tour route. There are even some trails that you can walk on.

The best times for observation are early and late in the day

when wildlife is most active.

There is nothing like the spectacle of seeing and hearing

thousands of snow geese coming in for a landing. With one

small exception, the road will accommodate tour buses and

RV’s. To really get the most out of Bombay Hook, consider

picking up the cassette tape narrating the auto tour that is

available from the Visitors center. Keep your eyes peeled

along the side of the road. Watch for wading birds, like

herons and egrets which feed on the fish in the ponds and

ditches, which line the tour route.

As many as 315 bird species have been counted on the refuge.

One of the more interesting and rare birds to see here is

the bald eagle. If you are lucky, you may get a chance to

see one of these magnificent birds. You can’t miss a mature

eagle with it’s snow white head. There is no mistaking an

eagle when it flies. It’s probably one of the most graceful

things you will ever witness. It very amazing when you

realize just how large this bird really is. Bombay Hook is

the perfect place for the symbol of our country to call

home. The salt marshes are ideal and those fish are an

important source of food for many birds, including bald

eagles and their young.

For a little variety, the 250 year old Allee House is open

to visitors on the weekend during the spring and fall. This

historic house is in the process of being restored. It’s a

excellent example of an 18th century farmhouse in this


If that’s not enough to keep you busy, the Friends of Bombay

Hook (a non-profit group) offers many activities year-round.

These include field trips, workshops for the whole family,

and presentations by leaders in different environmental


Whether you are a nature person, or just looking for

something fun and different to do on your vacation, Bombay

Hook is a great place to spend time and learn. The Refuge is

open daily from Sunrise to Sunset.

About the Author

Ernest C. Lancaster is excited about Airfare and

is the owner of Everything About Airfare


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: