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Target Rock
National Wildlife Refuge

Common yellowthroat (copyright Ed Sambolin)
12 Target Rock Rd.
Huntington, NY   11743
E-mail: longislandrefuges@fws.gov
Phone Number: 631-286-0485
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Target Rock's forest comes alive each spring with the arrival of migrating warblers, like this common yellowthroat. (copyright Ed Sambolin)
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  Wildlife and Habitat

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Uplands continued...

The forest at Target Rock is located on sloping, hilly terrain characteristic of a glaciated north shore Long Island. Oaks dominate throughout, sometimes accompanied by hickories. The canopy is open and individual trees in many cases are 60 to 80 feet in height. In some areas an understory of sassafras, oak saplings and other broad-leaved trees is evident. In open-canopy areas, grape, catbrier, blackberry, and other shrubs and vines create impenetrable tangles

Wetlands The Refuge contains a one-acre brackish pond. This is surrounded by marsh elder and salt hay. A small outlet to the south connects the pond to regular tidal flow.

Aquatic Habitats Target Rock's beach is regularly flooded and the exposed shoreline is very stony with rock ranging from gravel to cobble size. Glacial erratics in the bay can measure several feet in height. The erratics are located on two tidal flats that are thickly encrusted with blue mussel. Moving inland from the shore, the substrate becomes progressively sandier. Uplands adjacent to the beach are dominated by beach grass or are unvegetated.

Fish and Wildlife More than 200 bird species have been documented at the Target Rock NWR, with more than 50 breeding species. The Refuge provides suitable habitats for many forest, wetland, and beach-dependent species and is an important stopover for many migrants. A variety of marine wildlife use the waters adjacent to the Target Rock NWR and the shoreline supports a marine rocky intertidal community. Marine mammals, particularly the harbor seal, and leatherback and ridley turtles, use the coastline for feeding and loafing.

The chestnut oak/mountain laurel and oak hardwood forests offer good food and cover for migrating neotropical birds. Neotropical songbirds are especially common particularly during spring migration. Waterfowl, shorebirds, waterbirds and harbor seals are seasonally common on the beach and off-shore. The headlands provide a nesting habitat for belted kingfishers and bank swallows. Piping plovers use the refuge beach for foraging and loafing, while they nest on adjacent lands.

Raptors--The most common raptors observed at the Target Rock NWR include red-tailed hawk, great horned owl, eastern screech owl, osprey, and American kestrel. Screech owls are abundant and easily detected on the Refuge.

Waterfowl--Waterfowl use occurs in the brackish pond and the rocky shoreline. Peak numbers occur in winter, usually from October through March. Puddle ducks comprise about a fourth of the ducks using the Refuge and black ducks are by far the dominant puddle duck. Black ducks use both the brackish pond and the rocky shoreline. The most common diving ducks include common goldeneye, greater scaup, long-tailed duck, bufflehead, and red-breasted merganser.

Shorebirds, Gulls, Terns and Allied SpeciesCommon loons, red-throated loons, great cormorants, and horned grebes are common in winter off the Refuge's beach. During the summer, double-crested cormorants are easily observed. Among the six species of long-legged waders present, those commonly documented on the Refuge include great blue herons, snowy egrets, and great egrets.

Four species of gulls are present on the Refuge, while sandpipers also make use of the rocky beach and brackish pond. The most common shorebird species include greater yellowlegs, black-bellied plover, semipalmated plover, spotted sandpiper and willet. Common and least terns are observed on the Refuge from May through September.

Other Migratory Birds--A total of 35 neo-tropical bird species have been documented on the Refuge. The most common include gray catbird, American robin, rufous-sided towhee, northern flicker, northern oriole, northern cardinal, bank swallow, and house finch.

The sand bluffs above the Refuge's beach provide a specialized nesting habitat for belted kingfishers and bank swallows. The closure of a portion of the Refuge's beach appears to be benefiting some of these bluff nesting species.

Other Resident Wildlife--The most common species observed on the Refuge include the red fox, gray squirrel, eastern chipmunk, and eastern cottontail. Although presumably absent from the area since the 1950s, Complex staff have received several reports of white-tailed deer sightings from neighboring land-owners, and have noted deer tracks along the Refuge's nature trails.

Marine Animals--Harbor seals are observed occasionally either swimming or hauled out on some of the offshore rocks.

Fish--Recreational angling is a popular activity at Target Rock. The most common species sought include blackfish, bluefish and striped bass.

Rare, Threatened and Endangered Species Piping plovers forage on the Refuge beach and nest on the adjacent beach approximately 1/4-mile away from the Refuge. New York State threatened least and common terns also forage along the Refuge's shore. There are nesting colonies of these birds, as well as piping plover, directly across from the Refuge at Eaton's Neck, Northport and at Caumsett State Park, Lloyd Harbor.

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