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Wildlife on the BrinkNortheast : Piping Plover
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Piping PloverSpecies Gallery

Piping Plover (Atlantic Population)
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Charadrius melodus

STATUS: Threatened

HABITAT: Open, sandy beaches

LIFE HISTORY: Closely resembles sandpiper. Forages for small invertebrates in rack line where tide washes up on the beach. Arrives at breeding grounds late-March, early-April; departs mid-September. Winters on southern U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

THREATS: Habitat loss due to coastal development; disturbance or destruction of nests by beachgoers

BREEDING RANGE: Newfoundland south to North Carolina

CURRENT POPULATION: About 6,000 worldwide; less than 1,400 breeding pairs along the Atlantic

These stout little shorebirds are known for their acting ability—they lure predators away from their chicks by faking a broken wing. On the Atlantic coast, piping plovers live on beaches from Newfoundland to North Carolina.
Piping plover populations first declined from hunting in the 19th century, then rebounded under the protections of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. But the post-World War II development boom on the coast and increasing recreational use of beaches led to a second crisis for the plover—it was listed as a threatened species in 1986.
Only about 6,000 piping plovers exist worldwide, facing continued loss of their home ranges from coastal development and unwitting destruction of their nesting sites by beachgoers. However, protective fencing, warning signs and other conservation measures are helping to stabilize some remaining populations.
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Photos: Delaware River Gap © National Park Service; piping plover © Gene Nieminen, USFWS; swamp pink © Gene Nieminen, USFWS; Atlantic salmon © William W. Hartley, USFWS
Feature Home Print Version Alaska Northwest California Rockies/Prairie Southwest Midwest Southeast Northeast Hawaii International Piping Plover Swamp Pink Atlantic Salmon

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