Bird Resource Collection

Birds are a vital part of marine ecosystems and valuable indicators of ecosystem health. The protected areas of the National Marine Sanctuary System serve as pit stops for many species of migratory bird, offering rest and food along their travels.

Two seabirds with red clouds in the background


The term "seabird" encompasses any bird species that spends a substantial part of its life in a marine environment, foraging and breeding. Birds within this class generally have a longer life span, breed later, and produce fewer young than other birds. Many seabird species are highly migratory, with some known to travel over 40,000 miles each year. Coastal birds live in coastal habitats and vary in feeding and nesting behaviors. Shorebirds are a subset of coastal birds that use marine and/or freshwater edge habitat for feeding, breeding, and nesting. Waterfowl inhabit freshwater and saltwater environments and spend much of their lives on the water’s surface. The birds that visit and reside in the National Marine Sanctuary System connect our country's ocean, Great Lakes, and coasts.

Two seabirds standing next to each other

Lesson Plans & Activities

This collection of lesson plans and activities allows students to learn about birds through scavenger hunts, activity books, hands-on activities, and more. This section of the collection is beneficial to educators and teachers, as well as students who are interested in learning more about birds in a fun and engaging way.

baby seabird on a beach

Seabird Elementary Collection

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Marine Sanctuary System, the best of the best educational materials for an elementary school audience have been compiled in collaboration with the National Park Trust. This resource is specifically designed to address seabirds.

Hundreds of seabirds flying next to a mountain


The National Marine Sanctuaries Webinar Series highlights the work of NOAA employees, from scientists to communicators, through a live presentation with a Q&A opportunity. All webinars are recorded and archived for all who could not attend, but are interested in the subject matter. Explore this compilation of webinars related to birds in the sanctuary system.

Seabird holding food in its mouth


Bring birds into your home or classroom through these videos from the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Travel from many of our sanctuaries and monuments, including Mallows Bay-Potomac River to Stellwagen Bank, to further understand the importance of birds in the marine environment.

A seabird flying over the waters

Species Spotlight

Ever wonder what different types of birds can be found in the National Marine Sanctuary System? Explore this section to find where birds and what species of birds inhabit special ocean and Great Lakes areas protected by the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

Wildlife viewing guidelines poster

Wildlife Viewing Guidelines

Encountering birds can be a unique opportunity! For their safety as well as yours, please follow these guidelines: give wildlife plenty of space, be aware of local regulations and use your zoom lens or binoculars if you want that close-up view!

A baby seabird being held

Web Stories

Birds play a key role in many of our national marine sanctuaries across the United States and territories. Explore more about birds that inhabit the sanctuary system through this list of web stories from birds in California, citizen science opportunities, the Seabird Protection Network, and more.

A seabird looking out standing on flowers

Additional Materials

Still curious about seabirds? The Additional Materials section features more resources on the topic, opportunities to be citizen scientists through volunteer birdwatchers, information for pilots to protect seabird populations, and more.