Elizabeth Explains

Science Stories and More ——— From Elizabeth Deatrick

Piping Plover Protection Pays off in New York

Seriously, we normally have to domesticate animals to get something this cute. Photo by user Mdf, on Wikimedia Commons.

Seriously, we normally have to domesticate animals to get something this cute. Photo by user Mdf, on Wikimedia Commons.

Few animals are more adorable than Piping Plover chicks… and happily, these birds’ numbers are on the rise. As I just reported for Audubon’s website, for the first time in over 30 years, Piping Plovers have returned to the lakeshores of New York.

You can click the link above to read the full article (and you should; it’s quite a story) but here’s the rundown on Piping Plovers:

1) There are three different populations of Piping Plovers: Atlantic, Great Lakes, and Midwestern–and the Great Lakes plovers were in the deepest trouble. But the Great Lakes population has rebounded from just 12 breeding pairs in 1990, and now a record-breaking 73 pairs grace the shores of Lake Michigan and Ontario.

2) Restoring plovers is hard work. You can breed them in captivity, but they’re less likely to survive when released. Transporting them to a new location isn’t an option; plovers bond to beaches, rather than to each other, and will return to nest on the same shoreline each year.

Even if everything goes right, plover restoration can have unexpected consequences: Right now, there are far more male plovers than there are females, and scientists aren’t quite sure why.

So far, the best method seems to be to let the plovers come back on their own, by fencing off vital nesting beaches, and teaching beachgoers why they need to stay away.

3) If you want to help plovers, leave them alone! Keep out of nesting areas (and keep your pets out, too.) Don’t fly kites or drones nearby; they can spook parent birds. Lastly, leave the beach clean; trash can attract predators like raccoons or gulls.


The new Piping Plover nest on the shores of Lake Ontario. Photo courtesy of NYSDEC.


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This entry was posted on July 26, 2015 by in Audubon Articles, Blog Posts, Short Articles and tagged , , , , , , , .

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