Important Bird Areas

Assateague Island

Maryland

This site includes the 35 km Maryland portion of Assateague Island, a coastal barrier island of wide sandy beaches and sand dunes with small patches of Loblolly Pine woodland and scrub thicket. Several saltmarsh islands in Chincoteague Bay are also included. The site is designated as National Seashore and the majority is owned and managed by National Parks Service, with a small section owned and managed by the State of Maryland as Assateague State Park. This site is bounded to the west by Maryland Coastal Bays IBA.

Ornithological Summary

Assateague Island is an IBA at the global level due to the 60+ pairs of Piping Plover that nest on its beaches, representing 2% of this species? global population. Bird species occurring in significant numbers at the State level include: the largest ground-nesting colony (114 pairs) of Least Tern in Maryland (most nests of this species are now on artificial surfaces, like rooftops), Black Skimmer (Endangered in Maryland), and Peregrine Falcons. Assateague Island is an important migratory corridor for Peregrine populations in eastern North America, with more than 400 birds counted in most fall seasons. Migrant shorebirds congregate along the ocean beach in numbers significant at the State level, the most abundant species being Sanderling, Dunlin, and Ruddy Turnstone. The saltmarshes support significant populations of two Audubon/American Bird Conservancy WatchList species in the Red category, Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow and Seaside Sparrow, and a range of other saltmarsh-dependent birds. Chuck-will?s Widows breed in the pine habitats and this is one of the few places in Maryland with a breeding population of Common Nighthawks ? both are species at-risk in the state.

Ownership

The site is designated as National Seashore and the majority is owned and managed by National Parks Service, with a small section owned and managed by the State of Maryland as Assateague State Park. This site is bounded to the west by Maryland Coastal Bays IBA.