New Backcountry Camping procedures
Reservations for required permits must be obtained through Recreation.gov. Due to the breach at Old Inlet, access to both east and west wilderness camping zones must now be from Davis Park or access points west, and involve a 2½ to 10 mile hike. More »
Piping Plovers on Fire Island
Two federally listed threatened and endangered (T & E) bird species are known to nest within Fire Island National Seashore. One is the piping plover (Charadrius melodus), a stocky little migratory shorebird that is on the federal threatened and New York State endangered species list. Fire Island's relatively natural and uncrowded beaches provide critical habitat for the survival of this species.
The Atlantic coast population of the piping plover spends its winters along the coast from North Carolina south, along the Gulf Coast, and in the Caribbean.
By mid-March, some of the New York-New Jersey subpopulation of piping plovers start to return to Fire Island.
From March to late July, piping plovers breed on Atlantic Coast beaches from Canada to Virginia. There is also a population that breeds along the Great Lakes and another population breeding in the Northern Great Plains.
They all return to the south Atlantic Coast, Gulf Coast, Bahamas and West Indies for the winter.
By early April, males begin to establish and defend their territory. Following courtship, the female bird lays three to four speckled eggs resembling small pebbles in a shallow scraped depression in the sand. Nests are usually on the beach above the high tide or wrack line, but may be situated in washovers or blowout areas behind the primary dune line. Plovers may also nest where suitable dredge material has been deposited.
Female plovers generally lay one egg every other day until they reach a complete clutch of four eggs. The eggs are incubated by both male and female for about 27 days.
Piping plovers generally fledge only a single brood per year, but may renest several times if previous nests are lost, or if the chicks are lost within a few days of hatching.
For their first four weeks of life, they may walk hundreds of yards from the nest site, usually staying with one or both parents until they fledge.
Fire Island National Seashore's piping plover monitoring and protection program begins in March with a restriction on driving, pets and kites on portions of the beach. Symbolic fencing is installed to mark suitable plover habitat.
As nests are established, exclosures are constructed to protect both nest and eggs. After the chicks have fledged, restrictions on pets and kites are lifted, but the symbolic fencing is left in place for the protection of beach plants
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Did You Know?
Seals occasionally bask on Fire Island beaches in winter. Enjoy watching them from a safe distance. Remember to give these wild mammals plenty of room to retreat if you encounter one during your winter hike! More...