Piping Plovers

At Gateway, piping plovers live at Sandy Hook and Breezy Point.
Piping plovers live at Sandy Hook Unit in Monmouth County, New Jersey and at Breezy Point, Queens. Both are part of Gateway National Recreation Area.

Photo by Volunteer-in-Parks Shervin Hess. Used by permission.


In the early spring, while local commuters dodge cold rain and surprise snowfalls, tiny birds fly thousands of miles from the warm shores of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean to the shores of New York Harbor. They make their summer homes along waterfront property at Gateway's Sandy Hook and Breezy Point areas.

These are the piping plovers, a native bird species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) are short and stocky. They have orange legs, a black-tipped orange beak, and a dark band across their forehead. Their tiny size and sand-colored feathers act as effective camoflage against predators.
Found on sandy beaches and flatlands on Altantic Coast and Great Lakes. Winters along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
Diet consists of insects, marine worms and crustaceans. Nests on open ground near ocean shores or lake shores.
Piping plover are listed as a threatened and endangered species. Gateway staff and volunteers create enclosures every spring to create safe nesting areas for piping plovers.
Piping Plovers "All About Birds" The Cornell Lab Piping Plover Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Piping Plovers "Audubon Guide to North American Birds" Piping Plover | Audubon Field Guide

Last updated: February 2, 2021

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