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Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)

Great Lakes Population


Female piping plover

Notice the leg bands on this female piping plover. Information on migration, mortality rates and range expansion are just some of the things that researchers learn from banding.

Photo by USFWS; Vince Cavelieri


Great Lakes Population of Piping Plover


Status: Endangered, listed December 11, 1985


Habitat: Beaches along shorelines of the Great Lakes


Lead Region: 3


Region 3 Lead Office: East Lansing, Michigan Field Office


Summer Range: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin


Piping Plover Critical Habitat for the Great Lakes Population Breeding Habitat: Designated May 7, 2001 in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin



Comprehensive Conservation Strategy

for the Piping Plover in its Coastal Migration and Wintering Range in the Continental United States(Dec. 2012)

The Comprehensive Conservation Strategy synthesizes conservation needs across the shared coastal migration and wintering ranges of the three federally-listed piping plover populations.


s Piping plover in non-breeding plumage.
Photo by Sidney Maddock

Comprehensive Conservation Strategy (appendices not included) 125-page PDF; 1MB


Appendix 1 89-page PDF; 791KB


Appendix 2 17-page PDF; 980KB


Appendix 3 7-page PDF; 69KB




Piping Plover Images on Flickr

Check out the 2013 Field Journal!


The piping plover is a small shorebird that nests in the three separate geographic populations in the U.S.: the Great Plains states, the shores of the Great Lakes, and the shores of the Atlantic coast. Birds from all populations winter on the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts in the U.S. This website features the Great Lakes population, which is listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.


Recovery actions in Michigan, aided by many volunteers, has helped the plover population to steadily increase. In 2008, there were 63 breeding pairs (126 individuals). Of these, 53 pairs nested in Michigan, while 10 were found outside the state, including six pairs in Wisconsin and four in Ontario, Canada. A single breeding pair discovered in 2007 in the Great Lakes region of Canada represented the first confirmed piping plover nest there in over 30 years, and in 2008 the number of nesting pairs further increased to four. In 2009, a pair nested on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Illinois, the first nest in Illinois in 30 years.


Listen to a podcast!

Jack Dingledine, the Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Coordinator talks about the piping plover's conservation story.

Audio Clip



View a Video

Piping Plover Conservation


Volunteers Needed!

Help protect and monitor piping plover nests.


About Piping Plovers:

Piping Plover Life History


Piping Plover Conservation and Management


Piping Plover Species Profile


USFWS Piping Plover Fact sheet


USFWS East Lansing Michigan Field Office Piping Plover Home


USFWS Chicago Field Office's Piping Plover Spotlight


Piping Plover (Great Lakes) Population Status


Piping Plover Conservation and Recovery

September 22, 2009: 5-Year Review (206-page 1MB PDF)


September 2, 2009: Strong Partnership Benefits Wisconsin Piping Plovers


August 11, 2009 - Endangered Piping Plover Chicks Make History. Three chicks are from first Illinois nest in 30 years.


2006 S6 Grant Project - Great Lakes Shoreline Project


2006 Habitat Conservation Planning Land Acquisition Grant: Point Betsie Piping Plover HCP (Benzie County, MI)


Section 6 Grant: Determination of the status of Piping Plovers, Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid, Prairie Bush Clover, Fassett's Locoweed, and implement recovery management for Karner Blue Butterfly and Fassett's Locoweed (Wisconsin)


Piping Plover (Great Lakes Population) Recovery Plan



Piping Plover Critical Habitat:

Great Lakes Breeding Population Critical Habitat - Final Decision



Links to Information about Other Piping Plover Populations:

Atlantic Coast Breeding Population


Northern Great Plains Breeding Population


Missouri River News and Information



Back to Birds Home

Midwest Endangered Species Home


Last updated: April 23, 2015