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Nissequogue River Bird Conservation Area

General Site Information: The river corridor and beaches along Long Island Sound provide wintering grounds for waterfowl, and a foraging area and roost for species of herons and egrets. Wooded areas serve as a migration route for songbirds. This site is part of the Long Island Greenway Trail, a larger trail and migration corridor system.

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Nissequogue River BCA Management Guidance Summary

Site Name: Nissequogue River Bird Conservation Area

State Ownership and Managing Agency: Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation; site also includes a designated Department of State Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat.

Location: Suffolk County, Town of Smithtown

Size of Area: 153 acres

DEC Region: 1

OPRHP Region: Long Island

Vision Statement: Manage to conserve the bird species diversity of the area, and to facilitate recreational opportunities and access in a manner consistent with the conservation of the bird species.

Key BCA Criteria: Wading bird concentration site; diverse species concentration site; species at risk site (ECL §11-2001, 3.d, f and h). Herons and egrets roost at the site regularly, with more than 100 individuals present. An active osprey nest exists on a nest platform. Migratory songbirds use shoreline habitats; waterfowl feed in river, wintering grounds for waterfowl.

Critical Habitat Types: River and pond with deciduous trees and shrubs along shoreline, wooded corridors, beaches, open water, and salt marshes.

Operation and Management Considerations:

  • Identify habitat management activities needed to maintain site as a BCA.
    The area where the herons and egrets roost is very small, and is adjacent to a parking area. Currently the parking area is not used to any degree. When the visitor center is opened, the level of human disturbance may greatly increase. Consideration should be given to keeping the small parking area adjacent to the roosting area closed to vehicular traffic. Human disturbance to the heron and egret roosting sites (July-October) will need to be monitored, and human disturbance may need to be kept at low levels through signs and directing foot traffic away from the roosting area.

    Wooded areas should be maintained and restored, as appropriate.

    Disturbance to the osprey nest should be avoided during the nesting season.

  • Identify seasonal sensitivities; adjust routine operations accordingly.
    Maintenance activities near heron and egret roosting sites (July-October) could cause stress on birds, and potentially cause abandonment of the roost. Maintenance near the osprey nest should be avoided during the nesting season.
  • Identify state activities or operations which may pose a threat to the critical habitat types identified above; recommend alternatives to existing and future operations which may pose threats to those habitats.
    The egret and heron roost and the osprey nest are susceptible to disturbance. Where possible, human intrusion into these areas should be minimized. Ensure that bird conservation concerns are addressed when a management plan is developed for the site.
  • Identify any existing or potential use impacts; recommend new management strategies to address those impacts.
    Human disturbance near heron and egret roosting sites, osprey nest, and winter waterfowl areas should be avoided. Viewing areas should be carefully designed and monitored.

Education, Outreach, and Research Considerations:

  • Assess current access; recommend enhanced access, if feasible.
    Proper access to prevent disturbance should be designed, especially near the heron and egret roost, and the osprey nest.
  • Determine education and outreach needs; recommend strategies and materials.
    Develop interpretive materials including displays, brochures and programs about herons and other colonial waterbirds, ospreys, wintering waterfowl and songbird migrations.
  • Identify research needs; prioritize and recommend specific projects or studies.
    Continue inventory and monitoring of wading birds. Monitor for the potential use of the area by piping plover and least tern.

    Continue inventory of flora and evaluate impact of invasive species on nesting songbirds. Analyze soil conditions in formal lawn areas to determine the feasibility of creating natural meadows to provide habitat for open field birds.

Tom Lyons, OPRHP, Albany, 518-474-0409

Gary Lawton, OPRHP, Long Island State Park Region, 631-581-1072

New York State Department of State. 1993. Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat Narrative.

Wells, J. V. 1998. Important Bird Areas in New York State. National Audubon Society, Albany, NY.

Date BCA Designated: 4/28/00

Date MGS Prepared: 2/12/01

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