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Wildlife Fact:

Adult piping plovers will stagger and fake a broken wing to distract predators from their nests and chicks.

 

Beach Nesting Bird Project

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ tirelessly works to monitor and protect beach nesting birds in New Jersey.


Image of Black skimmers in flight.Black skimmers in flight. © Steve Byland

Piping plovers, least terns, and black skimmers, referred to collectively as beach nesting birds, are among New Jersey’s rarest and most threatened wildlife species. All three species are listed as endangered in New Jersey and, in addition, the Atlantic Coast population of the piping plover is federally listed as threatened along its entire range. American oystercatchers, a species of special concern in the state, also nest (and winter) on our beaches.

As the name suggests, these birds nest directly on the beach, laying their eggs in shallow depressions they scrape in the sand. They arrive in early spring to set up territories and then remain throughout the summer to lay their eggs and raise their young. Because this coincides with the summer tourist season when millions of people flock to our state’s beaches, human disturbance poses a great risk to beach nesting birds.

Multimedia of Wildlife of the Jersey Shore: Beaches are home to variety of species of rare species. Piping plovers, least terns, and black skimmers, referred to collectively as beach nesting birds, are among New Jersey’s rarest and most threatened wildlife species. Please share the shore and respect wildlife in coastal areas!

Wildlife of the Jersey Shore

Beaches are home to variety of species of rare species. Piping plovers, least terns, and black skimmers, referred to collectively as beach nesting birds, are among New Jersey’s rarest and most threatened wildlife species. Please share the shore and respect wildlife in coastal areas!

The number of beaches remaining in New Jersey where these birds can successfully nest is already significantly reduced from their historic levels because of intensive coastal development and the alteration of the natural habitat. Furthermore, predators, such as gulls, crows, red foxes, raccoons, skunks, cats, and even coyotes, are a severe threat to the birds, eating their eggs, chicks, and sometimes the adults themselves. Although some of these species are natural predators, their numbers have grown unnaturally in recent years, aided by an abundant year-round food supply provided by humans. Flooding is also a serious threat to beach nesting birds, and although they can survive periodic washovers, the specter of sea-level rise as a result of global warming, raises new concerns about the long-term survival of our state’s beach nesting birds.

Image of A Piping plover.Zoom+ A Piping plover. © Robert Lin

Because of this wide array of threats, beach nesting birds are some of New Jersey’s most intensely managed species. Each year nesting areas are protected with fence and posted with signs to alert beachgoers where birds are nesting and to prevent nests and young from being trampled or run over. Special cages called predator exclosures are placed over many piping plover nests to prevent predators from destroying their eggs. In some cases, especially for red fox, electric fence is also utilized. Paid seasonal stewards and dedicated volunteers patrol the nesting areas to monitor human disturbance and other recreational activities, as well as educate beachgoers. It is highly unlikely these birds would survive on New Jerseys’ beaches without this extensive protection.

The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ oversees the Beach Nesting Bird Project for the state working in close partnership with the Division of Fish and Wildlife – Endangered and Nongame Species Program. It also helps coordinate protection efforts with a variety of other statewide partners, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Coast Guard, Rutgers University, and Monmouth University, among others. Furthermore, it helps manage or train volunteers, including groups such as Wreck Pond Watershed Association, Shark River Cleanup Coalition, and Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, as well as numerous individual volunteers.

In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of this massive coast-wide protection effort during the breeding season, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ, through its Beach Nesting Bird project manager, works behind the scene to aid recovery of these species. Beach management plans are being developed and implemented with coastal communities to minimize impacts on beach nesting birds from municipal management, maintenance, and use of the beach. Data collected during the breeding season is used to track populations, gauge reproductive success, and identify threats. Although less glamorous than “hands-on” work directly with wildlife, these efforts are also critical for the conservation of beach nesting birds.

Image of A piping plover chick can find food on the beach within hours of hatching.A piping plover chick can find food on the beach within hours of hatching. © Bill Dalton
Share the Shore

If you live near or are visiting our beaches, you can help protect beach nesting birds by following a few simple rules:

  • Respect all areas fenced or posted for the protection of wildlife.
  • Do not chase, approach, or linger near birds or their nesting areas, or in anyway harass birds.
  • Control dogs (or better yet leave them home). Dogs can chase or frighten adult birds and their chicks, sometimes even eating or stepping on eggs and chicks. Dogs are not permitted on most beaches during the nesting season, but if they are allowed, keep them leashed and well away from nesting areas.
  • Keep cats indoors. Cats kill millions of birds each year, including our beachnesters.
  • Do not leave or bury trash or food scraps on the beach. Garbage attracts predators, such as gulls, crows, red foxes, raccoons, skunks, and cats, which may prey upon eggs or chicks. And please do not feed any of these predators.

Learn More:
Download Beach nesting bird brochure

Beach nesting bird brochure - 1.0MB
Brochure about beach nesting birds in New Jersey.

Reports:
Download 2009 Piping Plover Nesting Results

2009 Piping Plover Nesting Results - 181.6KB
A summary of the piping plover nesting season in New Jersey.

Download 2010 Piping Plover Nesting Results

2010 Piping Plover Nesting Results - 237.0KB
A summary of the piping plover nesting season in New Jersey.

Download 2011 Piping Plover Nesting Results

2011 Piping Plover Nesting Results - 362.8KB
A summary of the piping plover nesting season in New Jersey.

Download 2012 Piping Plover Nesting Results

2012 Piping Plover Nesting Results - 1.7MB
2012 Piping Plover Nesting Report

Download 2013 Piping Plover Nesting Results

2013 Piping Plover Nesting Results - 389.3KB
2013 Piping Plover Nesting Report

Journal Articles:
Download Overview of Beach-Nesting Birds in New Jersey

Overview of Beach-Nesting Birds in New Jersey - 8.1MB
Todd Pover, Spring/Summer 2008

Download The Role of Inlets in Piping Plover Nest Site Selection in New Jersey 1987-2007

The Role of Inlets in Piping Plover Nest Site Selection in New Jersey 1987-2007 - 2.0MB
Christina L. (Kisiel) Davis, December 2008-February 2009, p. 45

Download Restoring Beaches for Atlantic Coast Piping Plovers

Restoring Beaches for Atlantic Coast Piping Plovers - 625.8KB
Brooke Maslo, Steven N. Handel, and Todd Pover, March 2011

Download Modeling Foraging Behavior of Piping Plovers to Evaluate Habitat Restoration Success

Modeling Foraging Behavior of Piping Plovers to Evaluate Habitat Restoration Success - 179.2KB
Brooke Maslo, Joanna Burger, and Steven N. Handel, in-press

Download Piping Plover Trends

Piping Plover Trends - 2.7MB
Todd Pover, Spring/Summer 2008

Download Least Tern Trends

Least Tern Trends - 3.2MB
Todd Pover, Spring/Summer 2008

Download Black Skimmer Trends

Black Skimmer Trends - 2.2MB
Todd Pover, Spring/Summer 2008

Media Articles:

JERSEY; Plover Lovers Ruffle Some Feathers- New York Times, 5/29/2001

Download A Taste of Champagne - Island

A Taste of Champagne - Island - 431.2KB
Todd Pover, Explorations Fall/Winter 2008

Volunteers Helping State Monitor Plover Population - New York Times, 5/8/2009

Oystercatchers, Terns and Plovers at the Jersey Shore - Wild New Jersey, 6/12/2009

Piping Plovers Thrive in New Jersey in 2010 Despite the Odds - Explorations, 11/2010

Download Research Team Visits Abaco to Conduct Bird Survey

Research Team Visits Abaco to Conduct Bird Survey - 109.9KB
The Abaconian (Press Release), February 2011

Download Endangered Species in Sea Bright

Endangered Species in Sea Bright - 1.2MB
Stephanie Egger, Sea Bright - Sea Breeze Newsletter, April-June 2012, p. 3

Download Partnering for Piping Plovers A Conservation Sucess Story

Partnering for Piping Plovers A Conservation Sucess Story - 118.7KB
Todd Pover, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Bulletin, April-May-June 2012

Download Assessing Hurricane Sandy's Impact on Wildlife

Assessing Hurricane Sandy's Impact on Wildlife - 303.4KB
(Press Release), November 2012

Download Great Expectations for Piping Plovers at the Shore

Great Expectations for Piping Plovers at the Shore - 4.5MB
The SandPaper, April 17, 2013

Blog:

CWFNJ Beach Nesting Bird Blog Posts

Videos:

Wildlife Assessment Post Hurricane Sandy at North Brigantine Natural Area, NJ

Wildlife Assessment Post Hurricane Sandy at Stone Harbor Point, NJ

Wildlife Assessment Post Hurricane Sandy at Strathmere Natural Area, NJ

American Oystercatcher Banding Project in New Jersey

Other Resources:
Download Comprehensive Conservation Strategy for the Piping Plover in its Coastal Migration & Wintering Range

Comprehensive Conservation Strategy for the Piping Plover in its Coastal Migration & Wintering Range - 1.1MB
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, East Lansing, Michigan, December 2012

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Piping Plover website for the Atlantic Coast population

Listen to a Piping Plover podcast with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Contact Us:

Todd Pover, Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager: Email

609.628.0401

Stephanie Egger, Wildlife Biologist: Email

215.350.6827


Find Related Info:

American Oystercatcher Project


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