The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR) represents the largest protected area for over 300 species of migratory and resident birds on Long Island (LI), New York, and occupies a key position along the Atlantic flyway. We identified changes in nesting populations for 18 species of colonial waterbirds in JBWR and on LI, during 1974 - 1998, to provide a basis for future wildlife management decisions in JBWR and also at nearby John F. Kennedy International Airport. None of the populations was stable over the past 25 years in JBWR or on LI. Some populations in JBWR increased (Laughing Gull L. atricilla Linnaeus, Great Black-backed Gull L. marinus Linnaeus, Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri Nuttall) while others decreased (Herring Gull Larus argentatus Coues, Snowy Egret Egretta thula Molina), but only Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis Linnaeus) have disappeared from the refuge. Common Tern (S. hitundo Linnaeus), Least Tern (S. antillarum Lesson), Roseate Tern (S. dougallii Montagu), Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger Linnaeus), Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax Linnaeus) and Great Egret (Ardea alba Linnaeus) populations all increased on LI over the sampling period although the Common Tern colonies in JBWR have been declining since 1986. The continued protection of the colony sites, particularly saltmarsh islands, in JBWR will be important to the conservation efforts of many colonial waterbird populations on Long Island. The JBWR colonies may serve as a source of emigrants to other Long Island colonies, and in some cases, act as a 'sink' for birds immigrating from New Jersey and elsewhere.
Additional publication details
Changes in the nesting populations of colonial waterbirds in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, New York, 1974-1998