Migratory birds arriving in breeding areas should select territories that maximize reproduction and survival. Prey available prior to egg laying may be as important as prey availability for chicks later in the season. We sampled benthic and terrestrial prey items in Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) foraging habitat soon after they arrived in breeding areas in New York during 2001–2003. Benthic invertebrates in the sand flats were abundant and available to adults, whereas terrestrial arthropods typically used later in the season were sparse in all cover types. Foraging adults selected intertidal sand flats over other microhabitats. One benefit of nesting near sand flats apparently is abundant food upon arrival in breeding areas. Protecting habitat between arrival in breeding areas and territory establishment is uncommon but warranted for this threatened species.

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