Nature Conservancy of Canada re-opens Shorebird Interpretive Centre

August 3, 2022
New Brunswick


Semipalmated sandpipers make their way toward the Bay of Fundy

After being closed to the public for the past two summers, the Johnson’s Mills Shorebird Reserve and Interpretive Centre re-opened on Canada Day weekend. The centre is now open seven days a week for the public to visit and experience the wonder of the sandpipers’ migration taking place in July and August. The centre offers a viewing deck and interpretive staff are available to answer questions.

“The best time of day for viewing is during a four-hour window: from two hours before high tide to two hours after high tide. The centre is located at 2758 Route 935, eight kilometres from Dorchester, and admission is by donation,” said Zoë Estabrooks, student intern and Johnson’s Mills Interpretive Centre manager. For updates on hours of operation and the best times to view the shorebirds, visit Johnson’s Mills webpage: visitjohnsonsmills.ca

The first semipalmated sandpipers have started returning to the Bay of Fundy, a critical migratory stopover for the sandpipers on their epic migration from the Canadian Arctic to their wintering grounds in South America. Semipalmated sandpipers will continue to arrive at Johnson’s Mills until September, with numbers usually peaking from mid- to late August. Last year, the area was frequented by as many as 35,000 in one day.

Every summer, approximately 30 per cent of the world’s semipalmated sandpiper population — more than a quarter of a million birds — return to the Bay of Fundy including Cobequid Bay, Cumberland Basin, Minas Basin and Shepody Bay. Although semipalmated sandpipers are not considered endangered there is concern with shorebird populations declining by 40 percent in North America since 1970.

NCC owns 227 hectares in Johnson’s Mills and actively promotes conservation, education and stewardship on-site. NCC’s conservation work for shorebirds in Atlantic Canada, including at the Interpretive Centre at Johnson’s Mills, depends on monetary donations from people, businesses and foundations. With shorebirds populations in decline, NCC’s work to protect this coastal area is even more important.

Daily bird counts by NCC staff contribute to tracking population trends in the Bay of Fundy region year over year. Staff also try to minimize the risk of disturbance for the birds, which can be detrimental to their survival. Visitors can help by staying clear of the beach shoreline during high tide, so shorebirds have a chance to rest.


  • When the tiny sandpipers arrive in the Bay of Fundy, they weigh 20 grams — equivalent to the weight of a large strawberry. After their fea­sting period, their weight doubles.
  • The birds spend about three weeks resting and feeding on the rich marine life in the Bay of Fundy’s extensive mud flats to gain strength for the next leg of their journey, a 5,000-kilometre non-stop flight to South America.


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the country’s unifying force for nature. NCC seeks solutions to the twin crises of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change through large-scale, permanent land conservation. As a trusted partner, NCC works with people, communities, businesses and government to protect and care for our country’s most important natural areas. Since 1962, NCC has brought people together to conserve and restore more than 15 million hectares.

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Media Contact:

Andrew Herygers
Communications Manager

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