In March and April, birdwatching at Sandy Hook focuses on waterfowl, gulls, and raptors. May brings abundant migrating songbirds. Nesting species include both federally-endangered and state-endangered Least Tern and Piping Plover, a fact that has put Sandy Hook on the state's list of Important Bird and Birding Areas as well as on the National Audubon Society's list of globally significant Important Birding Areas. Fall birding begins in August with south-bound shorebirds, followed in September and October by numerous songbirds, such as flycatchers, warblers, sparrows, and buntings. Various water birds can be found in winter, including loons, grebes, sea ducks, and gulls. For a more detailed description of Sandy Hook birding, read Scott Barnes's account.
Rarities in recent years include Sabine's Gull, Swallow-tailed Kite, Barrow's Goldeneye, Groove-billed Ani, Gray Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and Townsend's Warbler. For pictures of some of the latest hot finds, see our gallery of Sandy Hook Rarities.
In addition to the birding available right at the Hook, there are other productive birdwatching sites along Raritan Bay and in Hartshorne Woods in neighboring Atlantic Highlands. For birding these other areas, see Scott Barnes's guide to birding Raritan Bay and the Close Focus on Natco Lake by Associate Naturalist Tom Boyle. Another excellent birding location in the winter is the North Shore, which refers to the New Jersey's Atlantic coast from the base of the Sandy Hook peninsula down to Point Pleasant. NJAS Naturalist Scott Barnes provides details on the birds and recommended spots for birding on the northern part of the North Shore here.