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Mountain-Prairie Region
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Piping Plover

 

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  • Piping plover feeding on edge of wetland. Credit: USFWS / Steven Tucker.

    Piping plover feeding on edge of wetland. Credit: USFWS / Steven Tucker.

  • Piping plover. Credit: Jacob Gross/USFWS.

    Piping plover. Credit: Jacob Gross/USFWS.

  • Piping plover on alkali lake nesting habitat in Northern Great Plains. Credit: USFWS / Steven Tucker.

    Piping plover on alkali lake nesting habitat in Northern Great Plains. Credit: USFWS / Steven Tucker.

Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)

Powerpoint Presentations from the December 2011 Piping Plover Workshop, Omaha, NE

Species Description:  The piping plover (Charadrius melodus) is a small shorebird about the size of a robin.  It has a sandy colored back and white underparts, with a single black neck band, a short stout orange bill and orange legs.  Piping plovers arrive in the Northern Great Plains to breed around mid-April and fly south by mid to late August.

Location:  The Northern Great Plains population of piping plovers nest on the shorelines and islands of alkali (salty) lakes in North Dakota and Montana.  They nest on sandbar islands and reservoir shorelines along the Missouri River and reservoirs in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. In Nebraska, they nest on the Platte River system, Niobrara, Loup, and Elkhorn rivers as well as limited locations in Minnesota and Colorado.  Most of the Northern Great Plains plovers winter along the Texas coast, extending into Mexico.

Nesting:  For nesting, piping plovers make shallow scrapes in the sand which they line with small pebbles or rocks.  The female lays three to four eggs and both parents share in incubation duties.  The eggs hatch after about 28 days, and the young leave the nest within hours.  The chicks can forage for themselves immediately, but remain near their parents for several weeks for protection and temperature control (brooding or shading).  Depending on food availability, it takes the young from around 18 to 28 days to begin flying.

Reasons for decline:  In the late 1800’s, piping plovers’ feathers were used in the millinery (hat) trade, and the species was heavily hunted.  Starting in the 1930’s, dam construction, water diversion and water withdrawals changed river flow regimes and drastically reduced the amount of available nesting habitat.  Human-caused changes to the landscape have increased the number and type of predators, decreasing nest success and chick survival.  On the wintering grounds, human disturbance, beach development, and sea level rise, have all drastically decreased the amount of habitat available to the piping plover.


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Actions: A five-year review of the piping plovers’ Endangered Species Act listing was completed in September 2009.  The current recovery plan was finalized in 1988.  A draft revised recovery plan was released in March, 2016. That announcement opened a 60-day comment period, which closes May 14, 2016.

Draft Revised Recovery Plan, Vol. 1
Draft Revised Recovery Plan, Vol. 2

News Release: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Public Comment on Draft Revised Recovery Plan for Northern Great Plains Piping Plover Population

Federal Register Notice: 3/16/16 Availability of draft revised recovery plan for the Northern Great Plains piping plover population.

· Summary

· Entire Notice (HTML version, 8 KB)

· Entire Notice (PDF version, Two pages, 195 KB)

Designation of Critial Habitat for the Nothern Great Plains Populations of Piping Plover 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated certain habitats in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska as critical habitat for the Northern Great Plains population of piping plover, and imperiled migratory shorebird.  This designation included 183,422 acres of habitat and 1,207.5 river miles.

Designated areas of critical habitat include prairie alkali wetlands and surrounding shoreline; river channels and associated sandbars and islands; and reservoirs and inland lakes and their sparsely vegetated shorelines, peninsulas, and islands.

These areas provide primary courtship, nesting, foraging, sheltering, brood-rearing and dispersal habitat for piping plovers.

News Release:  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Designates Critical Habitat for the Great Plains Population of Piping Plover

Federal Register Notice: 9/11/2002 Designation of Critical Habitat for the Northern Great Plains Breeding Population of the Piping Plover; Final Rule

Final Environmental Assessment - Proposal of Critical Habitat for the Northern Great Plains Breeding Population of Piping Plovers - June 2002 - (57 pages, 271KB in PDF format)

Economic Analysis of Critical Habitat Designation for the Northern Great Plains Breeding Population of the Piping Plover 12/4/2001 (73 page, 153 KB  PDF format)

Addendum for the Economic Analysis


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For More Information About Piping Plovers in the Following States:

Montana: Lou Hanebury, 406-247-7367

North Dakota: Carol Aron, 701-355-8506

South Dakota: Carol Aron, (in North Dakota) 701-355-8506

Nebraska: Martha Tacha, 308-382-6468 extension 19

Minnesota: Phil Delphey, 612-725-3548 extension 206

Kansas: Dan Mulhern, 785-539-3474 extension 109

Colorado: Pete Plage, 303-236-4750

 

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: March 17, 2016
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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