Beauty Plus Rats: The Norman Bird Sanctuary

[ 5 ] March 24, 2009 |

By Katy Killilea

hangingrockWe drove by it a million times on the way to the beach this summer. Now, at last, we have tried it.  And we loved it: the Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown. On a chilly Saturday morning, my family (two parents, two kids, ages 5 and 7) headed over to this gorgeous spot on Third Beach Road.

Let me tell you what the kids did: they joined a class (six kids in all) during which they touched a rat, portrayed a mosquito and a beetle in a living food chain, and went on a hike through one of the loveliest patches of squidgy mud in Rhode Island. Both kids had breathless, laughing fun.

Let me tell you what my husband and I did while the kids were in class: we hiked alone on some of the sanctuary’s seven miles of trails and discussed our mortality for two hours. Our choices were scaling Hanging Rock (pictured) or going to Home Depot to buy screws.  Obviously, we made the right choice and I barely remember why we thought we wanted screws. (Electrical outlets can go a few more weeks without their covers.)

Meandering and rat-touching were just what my family needed, and the Norman Bird Sanctuary delivered. I know we’ll go back soon.

The details:

norman-bird-sanctuary-logoNorman Bird Sanctuary
583 Third Beach Road, Middletown, RI 02842
Phone: 401-846-2577
Membership: $50/family.
Trail fees: $5/adult, $2/child. (Members and children under four free.)
“Eco Explorers” two-hour kids’ classes: $8/child (Less for members.)
See a complete listing of classes here.

Category: local ri area, nature/science

Katy Killilea

about the author ()

Katy Killilea lives in Barrington with her husband, their sons (2001 + 2003), and a dog named Grover. Katy loves reading, cooking, loud pants, the Beehive in Bristol, and learning everything she can about Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. She says more about that at Bigfoot Child Have Diabetes.

Comments (5)

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  1. elyse says:

    thanks, katy. so true to have passed it so many times on the way to the beach and thought, gee, that looks interesting …

  2. Erin Goodman says:

    thanks katy. my husband and i used to go hiking there way back when we were dating.

    definitely time for a family trip.

    (not so sure about the rats though.)

  3. Jaci Arnone Jaci says:

    Sounds great, I’ll add it to the family ‘to do’ list.
    Thanks, Katy!

  4. Lisa says:


    Sounds like fun. We’ll have to put it on the family to-do list.

  5. Nancy King nancy says:

    Thanks to you, a friend and her son joined me and my daughter on the most beautiful hike I’ve taken in Rhode Island. When we reached the end, the cynic in me whined, “Wow, it would be perfect if it weren’t for the roar of cars on a nearby road.” The roar was actually the ocean crashing on Second Beach. That shut me up. Can’t wait to return — probably for the Eco-Explorers class this Saturday.

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