Ecological Services
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Ecological Services Program in the Upper Midwest


Leg Bands Help Track Wintering Plovers


Piping Plover with new leg bands on Abaco Island.

Most piping plovers that winter on sand flats of the Bahamas are from the Atlantic Coast, last week a team of biologists and researchers from the United States and the Bahamas caught and re-banded a Great Lakes Piping Plovers on Abaco Island. It had been banded as a chick in Michigan. Feb. 7, 2015

Photo courtesy of Dan Catlin/Virginia Tech

March 5, 2015


While we endure the cold and snow of the Midwest winter, endangered Great Lakes piping plovers spend these months soaking up the sun in warmer latitudes. Biologists and volunteers carefully track summer nesting activity in the Great Lakes, but they are still seeking to learn more about where these rare birds spend the winter months. Information from banded birds has shown that most Great Lakes plovers appear to winter in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.


Piping plovers, small, migratory shorebirds, are among the Midwest’s rarest birds: in the summer of 1990, fewer than 12 pairs could be found nesting on the shores of the Great Lakes. Great Lakes piping plovers are endangered and are among three populations of the species in North America. The other two, listed as threatened, nest along the Atlantic Coast and along rivers and lakes in the Great Plains. In the fall, plovers from all areas migrate south and winter along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico or other southern locations.


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Great Lakes Piping Plover Home



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We have Ecological Services Field Offices in each of the eight upper Midwest States. For project reviews, Section 7 consultation, or information about endangered species that you do not find on this site, please contact the Field Office in your state.



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Last updated: May 11, 2015