Migrating Shorebirds

Migrating Shorebirds of New York and New Jersey

In addition to the beach nesting birds, many other shorebirds migrate through New York and New Jersey in the spring and fall. Our activities on the beaches are also felt by these birds, who make critical stops in New York and New Jersey to rest and refuel. These birds include:


Red Knot






Ruddy Turnstone







Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Sandpiper








Many of the beaches of New York and New Jersey are essential stopping points for migrating shorebirds. When they stop, they stock up on energy by feasting on the abundance prey such as horseshoe crab eggs and other invertebrates. Red Knots in particular feed on horseshoe crab eggs which are rich enough in calories and energy to sustain them on their long journeys–as far as 9,300 miles! However, since 1998 humans have been harvesting horseshoe crabs intensely and their numbers have been declining. This means that not enough horseshoe crab eggs are laid to sustain all the migrating shorebirds and the birds are also in decline. In fact, the drop in migratory shorebird numbers has been so steep in the last ten years that the New Jersey Audubon Society is pushing for the Red Knot to be listed as federally endangered.

Red Knot and Horseshoe Crab

Since these birds experience many of the same threats as nesting birds, taking the actions above to reduce disturbance to them will allow them to continue on their journey.

Thank you for sharing the beach with these beautiful birds!