Pralls Island Harbor Herons Preserve
Borough: Staten Island
Habitat Type: Salt Marsh
The isolation of Prall’s Island makes it an ideal protected habitat for nesting wading birds. During the late 1970s, development ideas were proposed for the island. However, bird watchers had begun to recognize the significance of Prall’s Island as a bird sanctuary. After a number of herons were seen on the island, further studies revealed that several species of birds, including egrets and ibis, were breeding in the area. These discoveries put an end to any discussion of developing the island. Along with Shooters Island and the Isle of Meadows, Prall’s Island is part of the Harbor Heron’s Wildlife Refuge.
The island was assigned to Parks by the Department of General Services in 1984, to be preserved as a wildlife refuge. The New York Audubon Society has a 30-year lease, which dates back to 1985, which allows the use of Prall’s Island for educational and scientific purposes. A study of avian life is being conducted by the Audubon Society and the Manomet Observatory in Massachusetts. Scientists are monitoring nesting sites and studying the habits and diets of migratory birds. The Audubon Society has documented 400 pairs of nesting birds on the island.
Without a stable nesting area, birds such as the little blue heron (Egretta caerulea), black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), and yellow-crowned night heron (Nyctanassa violacea) would not thrive in the New York Harbor. A 1995 survey by the New York City Audubon Society documented that the harbor herons area supported 57% of the state's cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis), 21% of the state's great egrets (Ardea albus), 28% of the state's snowy egrets (Egretta thula), 57% of the state's black-crowned night herons, and 35% of the state's glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus).
Pralls Island Preserve is not currently accessible to the public.