Important Bird and Birding Areas
Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge - Brigantine Division

IBBA Site Guide

Atlantic and Monmouth Counties
Coordinates: N 39.50591
W 74.39446
Site Map
Atlantic Coast: New England / Mid-Atlantic Coast

Area: 44,027 Acres     

Habitat: Primarily tidal salt marsh, several freshwater and brackish water impoundments, upland forest and dune/beach habitat at Little Beach

Site Description: The Brigantine Division of Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge was originally established in 1939 to protect important wintering habitat for waterfowl, especially American Black Ducks and Brant. In 1984 the two divisions were combined under the Forsythe name and in 1986 the refuge was designated a Wetland of International Importance for its ability to support a wide variety of waterbirds throughout the year. The Brigantine Division features Little Beach, a refuge for beach nesting birds, and 1415 acres impounded marsh habitat that support a diversity of wildlife. The site intersects the Little Egg Inlet Natural Heritage Priority Macrosite, designated by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as some of NJ’s most significant habitats.

IBA Criteria:
Conservation Concern – Federally-endangered; State-endangered (B)Least Tern
Conservation Concern – Federally-threatened; State-endangered (B)Piping Plover
Conservation Concern – State-endangered (B)Black Skimmer, Peregrine Falcon
Conservation Concern – State-special ConcernSemipalmated Sandpiper
Regional Responsibility Species - BCR 30 Salt Marsh/Wetland (B)American Black Duck, Clapper Rail, Mallard, Marsh Wren, Osprey, Salt-marsh Sparrow, Seaside Sparrow, Willet
Significant Congregations (W)Waterfowl
Significant Congregations (B)Gulls & Terns, Wading Birds
Significant Migrant Stopover/Flyover (FM, SM)Shorebirds
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Semipalmated SandpiperJim Gilbert
Birds: The beaches and dunes of Little Beach are incredibly important to the state-endangered Black Skimmer, Least Tern and Piping Plover during the breeding season. The Forster’s Terns and Gull-billed Terns that breed here represent the largest colonies in state. Breeding Common Terns forage throughout this site. Large numbers of Great Blue and Little Blue Herons, Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Night-Herons, and Great, Cattle and Snowy Egrets, American and Least Bitterns, and Glossy Ibises use the impoundments and surrounding salt marsh through the summer months. During spring and fall migration, the extensive impounded marsh habitat also harbors tens of thousands of ducks, geese, wading birds and shorebirds as they stop to feed and rest. Many species of waterfowl including American Black Ducks, Northern Pintails, Buffleheads, Green-winged Teals, Mallards, Gadwalls and Hooded Mergansers remain throughout the winter.

Conservation: The invasive common reed (Phragmites australis) is a problem throughout the refuge. Control efforts include burning in the spring and spraying once a year. Additional concerns include impacts to water quality as a result of rapid, dense development within the area and degradation of habitat quality associated with recreational boating throughout the tidal system.

Additional Information: Site Report
Brigantine Division
Brigantine DivisionCristina Frank