Important Bird Areas

Captree Island Vicinity

New York

This site includes the barrier islands on the south shore of Long Island,
and the islands and marshes on the bayside. Sandy beach and dune
systems, natural salt marshes, and spoil islands are included. According
to the NY GAP land cover data, approximately 20% of the site is salt
marsh habitat. The site extends from the Nassau/Suffolk county line
east to and including Captree Island and Robert Moses State Park.
It includes the eastern end of Jones Beach Island and the western tip
of Fire Island. The interior of the barrier island is bisected by a fourlane
highway with associated heavily developed recreational areas and
large parking areas. Ownership is a mix of public (Captree Island State
Park, Gilgo State Park, and Robert Moses State Park, administered by
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
[NYS OPRHP]), municipal, and private.

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Ornithological Summary

This site supports high numbers of wading birds during the breeding
season: 125 pairs in 1993, 140 in 1992, 54 in 1991, 206 in 1990, 365 in
1989, 194 in 1988, 305 in 1987, 375 in 1986, 171 in 1985, 120 in 1984.
Wading birds include Great Egrets (6 pairs in 1995, representing
1% of the state?s coastal population), Snowy Egrets (10 pairs in 1995;
2% of state population), Little Blue Herons (5 pairs in 1995; 19% of
state population), Tricolored Herons (10 pairs in 1995; 38% of state
population), Black-crowned Night-Herons (75 pairs in 1995; 4% of
state coastal population), and Glossy Ibis (80 pairs in 1995; 11% of
state population). In recent years, the total number of wading birds
has dropped to under 100 individuals. The site supports at-risk
species, including Northern Harriers (breeds and migrant), Black
Rails (one pair in 1997, the only known breeding location in the state),
Piping Plovers (eight pairs in 1994; 4% of state breeding population),
American Oystercatchers (31 pairs in 1995; 17% of state population),
Herring Gulls (893 pairs in 1995; 8% of state population), Great Blackbacked
Gulls (68 pairs in 1995; 1% of state population), Roseate Terns
(75 pairs in 1994; 5% of state population), Common Terns (2,000 pairs
in 1994; 12% of state coastal population), Least Terns (200 pairs in 1994;
8% of state population), Black Skimmers (33 pairs in 1994; 6% of state
population), Short-eared Owls (breeds), Horned Lark (breeds and
migrant), Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows, and Seaside Sparrows.
Other salt marsh breeders include Clapper Rails and Willets. The area is also important for passerine migrants and raptors, particularly in the
fall. The tidal area at Democrat Point at the western tip of Fire Island
hosts a great diversity and abundance of shorebirds. This is one of the
few sites in the state with regularly breeding Chuck-will?s-widow.

Conservation Issues

This site is listed in the 2002 Open Space Conservation Plan as a priority
site under the project name Long Island South Shore Estuary Preserve.
Portions of this site have been designated as a state Bird Conservation
Area. Portions of the beaches are heavily used for recreation. Continue
management efforts to eliminate or minimize human disturbance and
intrusions into nesting colonies of terns and Piping Plovers on beaches
during their critical nesting season (mid-April to August). Efforts
could include fencing, beach closures, posting, beach warden patrols,
and public education. In those colonies where predation is a significant
problem, whether from pets, feral animals, or native species such as
raccoons or gulls, predator control programs should be undertaken.
Predator control at Cedar Beach, where predation resulted in the
complete loss of a large tern and skimmer colony in 1995, should be a
high priority. Protection of the full geographical extent of both current
and recent historical nesting beaches should be sought as a means of
ensuring the long-term survival of beach-nesting birds in this region.
NYS OPRHP manages a Piping Plover and Least Tern protection
program in cooperation with various agencies and interest groups. The
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS
DEC) coordinates an annual survey of Piping Plovers and colonial