The least diverse of the refuge’s upland plant communities is the beach. Considered pioneer species, beach plants are exposed to constantly shifting sands, limited fresh water, temperature and wind extremes, and frequent salt water. The entire community can be covered by tidal surges. The beach extends from the intertidal zone into the dunes along the entire east and south sides of the island.
Although a harsh environment, the beach serves as a primary feeding location for the hundreds of thousands of shorebirds that spend summers here or stop by during their annual migration. Hundreds of peregrine falcons also migrate through the refuge each year. These predators follow their food source of migratory birds and can be observed hunting shorebirds in coastal areas.