Q. How can I help spread the word about protecting beach nesting birds? A. Teach other people how they can protect beach-nesting birds.  If you see someone on the beach disrespecting the nesting birds, speak up!  Many people don’t realize their actions are harmful to wildlife. 

Q: Where can I go to see beach-nesting birds? A:  There are a number of great places to go to see beach-nesting birds in the New York and New Jersey.  The New York City Audubon Society has information on a number of these locations, both on their website and in The New York City Audubon Society Guide to Finding Birds in the Metropolitan Area.

  • Breezy Point Tip, Gateway National Recreation Area, Rockaway, NY: Although the beach here is closed during the spring and summer, with a spotting scope it is still possible to see all five species of beach-nesting birds here.  Both adults and young can be seen in April, May, and June.
  • Sandy Hook, Gateway National Recreation Area, Monmouth County, NJ: In the summer, Piping Plovers and Common and Least Terns nest on Plum Island.  They are visible from the oceanfront at the North Beach Observation Deck.
  • Montauk Point, Suffolk County, NY: While the beaches at Montauk point are crowded with vacationers in the summer months, Piping Plovers and Least and Common Terns are still nesting there.  A spotting scope is recommended.
  • Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary at Playland Park, Rye, Westchester County, NY: This is a good spot in the summer months to see, with the aid of a spotting scope, Common Terns, American Oystercatchers, and Black Skimmers feeding along the shore.

Other good places to go to see beach-nesting birds are listed below.  These areas are all listed as Important Bird Areas and you can find beach-nesting birds here during the summer months.

  • Captree Island Vicinity, Babylon and Islip, Suffolk County, NY
  • Fire Island (East of Lighthouse), Brookhaven and Islip, Suffolk County, NY
  • West Hempstead Bay/Jones Beach West, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, NY
  • Cape May National Wildlife Refuge: Two Mile Beach Unit, Cape May County, NJ
  • Barnegat Bay, Ocean County, NJ

Although we encourage you to go visit these beautiful birds and their babies, please remember to keep your distance from nests and birds.  Use a spotting scope or binoculars to get a better view and try to avoid disturbing the birds as much as possible.

Q: What do I do if I find an injured beach-nesting bird? A:  First, make sure that it is actually injured. We are accustomed to thinking that if a bird is sitting on the ground, it must be injured, sick, or abandoned, but this is not the case with these birds, since they build their nests on the ground.  In addition, plovers are known for their “broken-wing displays,” where they pretend to be injured in order to draw attention away from their nests and young. If you are too close to the nests of these birds, you may see this behavior, but remember that the bird isn’t actually injured (no matter how good its acting is).

Plover Broken Wing Display

Plover Broken Wing Display 

In addition, the adult birds can give their young far better care than we can.  If you see a chick on the beach, please be completely certain that it is severely injured before taking it off the beach.  If no obvious injuries are visible, such as a broken wing or leg, leave it where it is.  Baby birds do not do well in captivity. If you decide the bird is actually injured and requires your help, carefully and gently place it into a cardboard box with a lid or towel over the top, and place the box in a cool, safe place.  You can also use a pet carrier if you have one.  Try to keep it out of direct sunlight or high temperatures.  Then, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator, listed here for New York and New Jersey. New York City and Long Island Wildlife Rehabilitators Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons: 631-728-2409 Volunteers for Wildlife in Locust Valley: 516-674-0982  

Q: What do I do if I see someone harassing beach-nesting birds or their nesting site? A:  Oftentimes, people will bother beach-nesting birds simply because they are not aware of the birds’ presence, or don’t know that their actions are causing a disturbance.  In these cases, you may want to try to politely dissuade the individual from engaging in that behavior.  If that doesn’t work, or if somebody is seriously or maliciously bothering the beach-nesting birds, such as purposefully destroying nests or eggs or chasing birds away, contact the authorities in charge of that stretch of beach.  Find out which organization is in charge, since there are several different numbers you can call to report beach-nesting bird disturbances or violations.  Be aware that the authorities may ask for detailed descriptions of the offending individual and their violation, but do not put yourself at personal risk to gather these details. New York City Department of Parks and Recreation: Parks Enforcement Patrol: Call NYC police at 911 Submit a complaint online National Park Service: Parks Police Phone: 718-338-3988 New York State Department of Environmental Conservation: Environmental Conservation Police Officers File a complaint online Turn in Poachers and Polluters (TIPP) Hotline: 1-800-847-7332 Officer Dispatch:  1-877-457-5680 New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection WARNDEP Hotline: 1-877-927-6337

Q. I want to help!  Is there a way I can volunteer my time to the Be a Good Egg NY/NJ project? A. Yes! If you live on Long Island, contact Amanda Pachomski (apachomski@audubon.org); in the NYC area contact John Rowden (jrowden@nycaudubon.org); and if you live in NJ, contact Nellie Tsipoura (nellie.tsipoura@njaudubon.org)

Q. Who do I contact to learn more about this project? A. Submit your question to apachomski@audubon.org.