Threatened and Endangered Species Week: The Piping Plover

Threatened and Endangered Species Week: Piping Plover
Piping Plover Piping Plover
This rare little bird chooses the beautiful coastlines of the Great Lakes as one of its summertime nesting habitats. While populations in the northern plains and the Atlantic coast are considered only threatened, the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) populations in Michigan and the Great Lakes region are classified as endangered. The piping plover is a short, stocky, sand colored migratory shore bird whose main habitat is wide open sandy beaches with little vegetation. They are found on Michigan coastlines in mid-April until August when they fly south to winter along the coasts of South Carolina, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico. When nesting, the female builds a shallow nest lined with pebbles on the beach and both parents care for the young.
Plover Nest Plover Nest
Large factors contributing to the endangered status of Great Lakes populations of piping plover are habitat loss and nest disturbance. Many of the beaches they once nested on have been lost to commercial, residential, or recreational development. Since they are ground-nesting birds, they are easy targets for predators, but also human disturbance plays a large part in piping plovers abandoning or losing their nests. People often don’t see the well camouflaged nest on the ground and unleashed pet dogs can harass the birds. Eggs and chicks can be trampled by beach goers or off road vehicles. It is important to keep your eyes out for these special little birds and their nests so populations can recover in our region. Find out more about the Piping Plover and how you can help protect them HERE.

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