Important Bird and Birding Areas
Manahawkin Wildlife Management Area

IBBA Site Guide

Ocean County
Coordinates: N 39.6867
W 74.2222
Atlantic Coast: New England / Mid-Atlantic Coast

Area: 3,498 Acres     

Habitat: Extensive tidal salt marsh bordered by upland forest and scrub-shrub habitats

Site Description: Taken together with its neighbor to the north, the Barnegat Division of Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, the Manahawkin Wildlife Management Area (WMA) represents one of the few remaining large expanses of salt marsh and transitional woodland coastal habitat in New Jersey. Smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) and saltmeadow cordgrass (Spartina patens) dominate the salt marshes while pitch-pine (Pinus rigida) mixed with various deciduous tree species characterizes the coastal forests. The site intersects the Manahawkin Bay Natural Heritage Priority Macrosite.

IBA Criteria:
Conservation Concern – State-endangered (B)Black Skimmer, Pied-billed Grebe
Conservation Concern – State-threatened (B)Black-crowned Night-Heron, Black Rail, Osprey
Conservation Concern – State-special Concern (W)Northern Harrier
Regional Responsibility Species - BCR 30 Salt Marsh/Wetland (B)American Black Duck, Black Rail, Clapper Rail, Marsh Wren, Osprey, Salt-marsh Sparrow, Seaside Sparrow, Virginia Rail, Willet
WilletMichael Hogan
Birds: The tidal waters and marshes of Manahawkin WMA support a long list of imperiled bird species during the breeding season. These include state-endangered Pied-billed Grebes and Black Skimmers and state-threatened Black Rails, Ospreys and Black-crowned Night-Herons. Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows, American Black Ducks, Seaside Sparrows, Clapper Rails, Marsh Wrens, Virginia Rails and Willets also consistently breed throughout the marsh habitat. During winter months, Rough-legged Hawks and Northern Harriers frequent the area in search of a meal. Scrub-shrub habitats found at Manahawkin WMA provide excellent resting and foraging for spring and fall migrant landbirds.

Conservation: Ongoing development of the remaining scrub-shrub and forested habitat in the Manahawkin area reduces availability of critical areas for migratory raptors, songbirds and their prey. To ensure availability of critical habitats in this area, protection or acquisition of lands adjacent to Manahawkin WMA is recommended. Development and implementation of a management plan for this and other publicly owned lands is also necessary to create and maintain high quality habitats. Invasive species, particularly the common reed (Phragmites australis), also reduces habitat suitability in this area by reducing habitat diversity.

Additional Information: Site Report
Manahawkin WMA
Manahawkin WMABen Wurst