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Mason Inlet Waterbird Management Area


The Mason Inlet Waterbird Management Area is a 300-acre sanctuary located on the north end of Wrightsville Beach. The site is protected year-round for colonial waterbirds and shorebirds to use as nesting habitat during the breeding season, and resting and foraging habitat during winter and migration. Although the Mason Inlet sanctuary is posted with signs and symbolic rope fence to prevent human disturbance to the birds using the area, visitors to the site are afforded excellent views of nesting birds from several vantage points where various terns, Black Skimmer and Wilson's Plover nest close to the fence line. A sandy path beginning at an interpretive kiosk leads visitors across the primary dunes to the beach, following the fence line a little more than half a mile before reaching Mason Inlet. Along the way visitors will see typical barrier island dune and swale plants in their natural setting. During summer, colonial waterbirds and shorebirds nest within the dunes and forage along the inlet shoreline. Mason Inlet mud flats and sandy shoals are also excellent sites to look for migrating shorebirds and wading birds.

Species of Interest (Full Bird List)

Peregrine Falcon, Wilson's Plover, American Oystercatcher, Least Tern, Black Skimmer, winter waterfowl


salt marsh, beach and dune

Special Features/Concerns

Nesting shorebirds and waterbirds are present during the summer. Please respect the posted areas for nesting birds. Sea beach amaranth, an endangered plant, also grows in the dune system. Please avoid disruption of all dune areas.

Access and Parking

Park in the public parking lot (fee) next to the Shell Island Resort or in the next available parking lot to the south. Park only in designated public parking lots. Parking on the roadside, in unauthorized parking at Shell Island Resort, or anywhere outside of designated parking lots will result in a citation and towing. The site is open daily, year-round. Weekly guided beach walks by Audubon NC staff are available free of charge, May - September. Special tours are available by appointment. Contact Audubon NC for scheduling and arrangements.


From Wilmington, cross the Wrightsville Beach bridge, bear left, and continue to Lumina Avenue. Turn left on Lumina Avenue and follow to the northernmost end of Wrightsville Beach and the Shell Island Resort.

Google Directions

Delorme Gazetteer Page


Bird List

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