Important Bird and Birding Areas
Barnegat Lighthouse State Park & Inlet

IBBA Site Guide

Ocean County
Coordinates: N 39.76087
W 74.12346
Site Map
Atlantic Coast: New England / Mid-Atlantic Coast

Area: 1,331 Acres     

Habitat: Open water with beach/dune habitat

Site Description: This site includes the open waters of Barnegat Inlet, High Bar Harbor and the sandy beach of Barnegat Light State Park. The 32-acre state park features the historic, 172-foot tower of Barnegat Lighthouse, fondly known as “Old Barney,” and a long jetty which combine to offer excellent views of wintering waterfowl and gulls at the mouth of the inlet. The area also has a small woodlot that supports a wide variety of songbirds during spring and fall migrations.

IBA Criteria:
Conservation Concern – Federally-endangered; State-endangered (B)Least Tern
Conservation Concern – Federally-threatened; State-endangered (B)Piping Plover
Significant Congregations (W)Waterfowl
Significant Congregations - Exceptional Single Species Concentration (W)Harlequin Duck
Barnegat Lighthouse
Barnegat LighthouseMike Lyncheski
Birds: Barnegat Inlet is an extremely important area for wintering waterfowl. This is the only site in New Jersey with wintering Harlequin Ducks (up to 30 individuals). Common Eiders, Red-breasted Mergansers, Long-tailed Ducks, Common and Red-throated Loons and White-winged, Black and Surf Scoters are common winter residents as well. The dunes and open sandy areas offer refuge for American Pipits, Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs in migration and during the winter. During the breeding season, a portion of the beach at the state park is fenced off to protect beach nesting birds including federally listed Piping Plovers and Least Terns. During spring and fall migration, migrants utilize the small area of American holly (Ilex opaca) and eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) at this location.

Conservation: Dogs, feral cats, and recreational use are major threats to beach nesting birds. Colonies of Least Terns and Black Skimmers are particularly susceptible to human disturbance. Disturbance is deterred with signage, fencing, regulation and nest exclosures.

Additional Information: Site Report
Harlequin Ducks at Barnegat
Harlequin Ducks at BarnegatMike Lyncheski