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Updated on October 13, 2014

Delaware USA - The First State

Delaware is one of the smaller states on the USA east coast, known as the "first state".

Delaware is the 49th state in the nation in terms of size at 1,982 square miles. Delaware is 96 miles long and from 9 to 35 miles wide.

The state is divided into New Castle County, Kent County, and Sussex County.

Delaware's state fish is the weakfish.

photo credit: NOAA image library

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lewes de

Delaware Beaches

Delaware has a great selection of beaches for bathing, swimming, shell collecting and relaxing. Popular Delaware beaches include Broadkill Beach, Lewes, Indian River Inlet, Rehobeth, Dewey Beach and Fenwick. Many Delaware coastal towns have boardwalks, shopping and beachfront dining. Delaware also has state parks that offer beach access and a variety of activities.

Delaware Birdwatching

Song birds

Both islands are visited by large numbers of song birds. The marshes, wildflowers and areas of brush provide ideal nesting and feeding habitat. Other songbirds inhabit the tall pine forests of Delaware. Warblers, nut hatches, sparrows, red wing blackbirds and others nest on the refuge in the summer, while cardinals, jays, woodpeckers and finches reside during the winter months.

Shore Birds

Herons, egrets, ibises, oyster crackers, marsh hens and other shorebirds are frequently spotted along the marshes of Delaware Bay. On the beaches, dozens of species of sandpipers, plovers, gulls and terns feed, nest and raise chicks.

Birds of Prey

Delaware is visited by a number of birds of prey. Ospreys arrive in the spring to raise young and feed on the abundant fish stocks. As seasons change, some ospreys migrate south while other birds of prey migrate into the fields and forests of Delaware for the winter. American eagles, red tailed hawks and other large hunters are present in fall thru spring. Other hawks such as sparrow hawks may be found year round.


Ducks, geese, brant and swans all make stops in the marshes and refuges of Delaware. In the refuges, geese and swans take up residence year round. Other full time residents include black ducks which raise their young in the refuge and marshes.

As autumn arrives, ducks and geese begin to pour into the refuge and surrounding areas. Delaware is well known for it's visiting shoveler ducks, pintails, mallards, widgeons, teal, rudy ducks, canvasbacks, redheads, ring necked ducks, bluebills, and others. Mergansers, buffleheads, goldeneyes and other diving ducks show up in the bay waters as cold weather sets in. Off the coast, rafts of sea ducks and small groups of oldsquaw ducks forage along the shoals over the winter.

Pelagic Birds

The waters off the Delaware coast are visited by up to 30 species of pelagic birds including albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, storm-petrels, phalaropes, skuas, jaegers, gulls, terns and alcids. These birds migrate along the offshore waters, many never see land on the eastern seaboard.

Delaware Seafood

Delaware has both coastal waterfront and property along the Delaware Bay. This small state has landings of blue crabs, clams, oysters and fish including tuna, wahoo, mahi mahi, swordfish, sharks, flounder, sea bass, monkfish, croaker, spot, striped bass and other species.

The Delaware Bay Horseshoe Crab - Shorebird Relationship

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Horseshoe Crab Management Board has approved Addendum V to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Horseshoe Crab.

The Addendum maintains the suite of management measures contained in Addendum IV for an additional year. These measures seek to address the needs of the migratory shorebirds, particularly the red knot, while allowing a limited commercial bait fishery.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Shorebird Technical Committee has indicated that the red knot, one of many shorebird species that feed upon horseshoe crab eggs, remains stable at very low population levels. Red knots have shown no sign of recovery, despite a nearly 70 percent reduction in horseshoe crab landings since 1998.

Delaware Discussion

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    • northamerica profile image

      northamerica 6 years ago

      @Jeanniehoover: Jeannie

      If you are going to visit Maryland, Assateague State Park is a good beach. It has a miles of sandy beaches and lots of wildlife.

    • profile image

      Jeanniehoover 6 years ago

      @kencasey: What beaches would be good to take young children to look for sea shells, sea glass and driftwood pieces, or other ocean through backs? The above site mentioned parks but did not say what ones. Live in PA and would like to spend a couple days in ME and MD.

    • kencasey profile image

      kencasey 8 years ago

      Hi, daybreak

      Thanks for introducing Delaware. I was born there, and continue to write articles and lenses about Delaware related geology.