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New York

Long Island: Least Terns and Piping Plovers


The Plight of the Piping Plover

Once on the brink of extinction, this shorebird has made a remarkable recovery — but they are still at risk.

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Every summer we share our beaches with threatened and endangered bird species like the piping plover and the least tern. In 1986, when plovers were listed as federally threatened, only 106 pairs nested on Long Island. In 2006, thanks to increased monitoring and better protection of their nesting areas, there were over 400 nesting pairs. But the birds are still at risk. Each year, they lose habitat, suffer losses from predation and experience disturbances from human activities.

Helping Our Feathered Friends

For two decades, we have been successful in finding ways that people can enjoy our beaches and bays while coexisting peacefully with wildlife.  Today, we are working to:

  • Partner with other groups and volunteers to fence, post, and monitor plover and tern nesting sites, including Audubon New York, American Bird Conservancy and USFWS Atlantic Coast Population;
  • Manage sites and collect data to evaluate the success of our management activities;
  • Hire, train, and supervise stewards;
  • Institute management programs within town governments;
  • Initiate a program with private landowners to allow fencing on their property to protect plovers and terns; and
  • Evaluate - and work to prevent - the impacts of predators on plovers and terns.
What You Can Do

But we can't do it alone. Next time you're at the beach, remember to:

  • Respect "restricted area" signs - don't drive or linger near birds and nests;
  • Leave dogs at home or on a leash, and keep cats indoors;
  • Be aware of birds swooping and calling loudly as you walk the beach - they are letting you know that you are too close to their nests and chicks;
  • If at all possible, don’t drive on the beach. But, if you must, stay below the high tide mark on hard-packed sand. Maintain low speed;
  • Support vehicle-free beach zones during the nesting season; and
  • Volunteer to be a steward.

We’re Accountable

The Nature Conservancy makes careful use of your support.

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