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Rockaway Beach Endangered Species Nesting Area (RBESNA)

A tiny gray and white shorebird looks over the gray chicks in a hole in the sand at the beach. The hole is shaded by beachgrass.

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.

The plover nests on Rockaway Beach in Queens, and the breeding area includes the beach between Beach 38th Street and Beach 57th Street. Over the last few seasons, "satellite" sites have been established both to the east and the west of this main site.

NYC Parks' Wildlife Unit monitors 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 plovers.

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