Arverne Shorebird Preserve
Habitat Type: Sand Dunes
Every summer in the Arverne neighborhood of Rockaway Beach an area between B44th and B57th Streets is cordoned off to limit disturbance to breeding piping plovers. The piping plover (Charadrius melodus) is a small, plump shorebird that breeds on Atlantic beaches from Newfoundland to Virginia, as well as on inland beaches from eastern Alberta and Nebraska east to the shores of Lake Ontario. In 1986 the piping plover was federally designated as endangered on the Great Lakes and threatened on the Atlantic Coast. Plovers breed on the same sandy beaches that humans enjoy, where they build their nest, a slight depression in the sand called a scrape. To keep the eggs cool in the hot sun, and warm at night male and female plovers take turns sitting on the scrape. When the chicks have hatched, the parents teach them to run back and forth from the scrape to the water’s edge, where they eat invertebrates such as marine worms, fly larvae, beetles, crustaceans, and mollusks. Human activity is a problem for the birds. Even joggers on the beach can accidentally step on the young chicks, or distract the adults, leaving the chicks vulnerable.
Over the last few seasons, "satellite" sites have been established both to the east and the west of the primary protected area. The Urban Park Rangers monitor the plovers on Rockaway Beach according to the guidelines provided by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Nests are observed at least three times a week, and records are kept regarding the number of plovers observed, the number of nesting pairs and the number of eggs in a clutch. Observations are usually made from afar using binoculars and spotting scopes so as not to disturb the nesting birds. Other species benefiting from this protection are least terns, oystercatchers - and an endangered plant, sea beach amaranth.
By Subway: Take the A train (Far Rockaway/Mott Haven Branch) to the Beach 60 St. or Beach 44 St. stop. Walk south 2 blocks from the 60 St. stop and 1 block from the 44 St. stop to reach the boardwalk and Rockaway Beach.
By Bus: The 22 Bus runs along Beach Channel Drive, which is approximately 4 blocks north of Rockaway Beach.
By Car: From the Belt Parkway, take Exit 17S for the Cross Bay Boulevard toward the Rockaways. Cross Bay Boulevard becomes the Cross Bay Bridge. Turn a slight right onto Cross Bay Parkway and left onto Rockaway Freeway. The Shorebird Preserve is on the beach, between B44 and B57th Street.