Piping Plover, Atlantic Coast Population
Northeast Region

Piping Plover Slide Show
(Text Only)

Slide 1
Picture: Cover slide showing U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service logo, black and white illustration of piping plover adult and chick, and the text "Piping Plover Slide Show."
Text: Presented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.

Slide 2
Picture: Close-up of adult piping plover on the beach. (Small plump bird, sand colored above, white below. Orange legs. Orange beak with black tip. Incomplete black neck band and black forehead stripe.)
Text: Piping plovers are small, sandy colored shore birds. During the breeding season they have a distinct black neck band and an orange-colored, black-tipped beak.

Slide 3
Picture: Map of Atlantic Coast piping plover breeding and wintering areas.
Text: Atlantic coast piping plovers winter along the coasts of the southeastern U.S., the Gulf of Mexico, and the Bahamas and West Indies. In spring, they migrate to breeding areas along the eastern coast of North America from North Carolina to Newfoundland and southeastern Quebec.

Slide 4
Picture: A wide, shelly uninhabited beach with a sparsely vegetated dune.
Text: When they arrive in March or April at their east coast breeding sites, they settle on largely uninhabited beaches.

Slide 5
Picture: Piping plover nest with four eggs beneath a clump of beach grass. Eggs are sand-colored and speckled.
Text: The nests that they create are merely shallow depressions that are often lined with pieces of pebbles or shell.

Slide 6
Picture: Close-up of a piping plover's head and shoulders as it stands over its nest, which contains three eggs.
Text: Their eggs blend perfectly with the surrounding sand or cobblestones. The adults, both the male and female, incubate the eggs, and about 4 weeks later, the chicks hatch.

Slide 7
Picture: Close-up of a young piping plover chick walking on a muddy substrate along the water. Chick is light colored and downy with orange legs and a black bill. It lacks the black neck band and forehead stripe of the adult.
Text: Chicks are active shortly after hatching and soon begin feeding along the water's edge with their parents. Because they will not be able to fly for their first 25-35 days, they must walk.

Slide 8
Picture: Adult piping plover on the beach brooding three chicks under its wings (only the legs of the chicks are visible).
Text: Adults show the chicks where to feed and warn them of approaching danger. Look closely and you will see that this "seven-legged" plover is sheltering three chicks under its wings.

Slide 9
Picture: Juvenile piping plover feeding. No longer downy, this older chick still lacks the black neck band, forehead stripe, and black-tipped orange bill of the adult. Its foot is raised, and it is probing a piece of food with its beak.
Text: Piping plovers feed by poking their beaks into the wet sand, mud or wrack (organic beach debris) searching for small invertebrates. They feed on tiny crustaceans and insects such as fly larvae and beetles. The chicks must eat enough to triple their weight in the first two weeks of life.

Slide 10
Picture: Shelly beach with a well-camouflaged piping plover some distance away on its nest.
Text: Piping plovers, like their eggs, are camouflaged against the background of the beach. This helps to protect them from predators.

Slide 11
Picture: A red fox in a field.
Text: Foxes prey on piping plover eggs and chicks. Dogs, cats, raccoons, and skunks are other plover predators. Unleashed dogs and outdoor cats are a particular problem for piping plovers.

Slide 12
Picture: A gull in flight.
Text: Gulls will also prey on piping plover chicks and eggs. Like many plover predators, gulls are attracted to the beach in increased numbers by the garbage that humans leave behind.

Slide 13
Picture: A crowded beach in summer.
Text: As spring moves into summer, crowds of people come to beaches to enjoy summer recreation. Piping plovers are sensitive to the presence of people.

Slide 14
Picture: A piping plover on the beach with wings extended.
Text: If an adult plover detects a person coming, it is likely to fake a broken wing to lure the intruder away from its chicks or nest. If adults spend too much time trying to lure people away, their eggs and chicks become vulnerable to predators and to overheating in the hot sun.

Slide 15
Picture: A piping plover nest with two of the four eggs crushed, with a footprint indicating the nest was stepped on.
Text: Because nests and chicks are so well camouflaged, humans can walk right by a nest without even knowing it. Sometimes, this camouflage results in disaster.

Slide 16
Picture: Small group of people flying a kite on the beach.
Text: Kite flying is a popular beach activity, but kites may present a problem when flown near piping plovers. When plovers see kites, which they may perceive to be large predatory birds, they often stop feeding and run or fly towards cover. These types of interruptions impede the plovers' critical need to grow and store fat prior to their southward migration.

Slide 17
Picture: A beach crowded with trucks and vans.
Text: In some areas, vehicles are allowed on the beach- the same beaches where the plovers are nesting and feeding. The flightless chicks get stuck in the deep tire tracks that the vehicles leave, and are often run over by the vehicles themselves.

Slide 18
Picture: A beach with houses built almost up to the water.
Text: As our population grows, we are developing more and more coastal areas. This development and other human impacts have cut down on the habitat available for piping plovers to nest and feed, resulting in drastic population declines.

Slide 19
Picture: Cover of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service publication "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants." This is the official list of species designated threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Text: In response to population declines, the piping plover was officially protected under the Endangered Species Act in 1986. This Act provides penalties for killing, harassing or harming the piping plover and provides some protection to its habitat.

Slide 20
Picture: A typical sign posted on beaches in areas where piping plovers are nesting. The large print reads "Area Closed: Endangered Birds Nesting." Descriptive text follows, along with illustrations of the black skimmer, the least tern, and the piping plover. At the bottom are the text and symbols "No vehicles," "No pets," and "No entry."
Text: Signs, like this one, are often posted in areas where the birds are nesting. It warns people to keep away and respect the birds' breeding space.

Slide 21
Picture: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees erecting a predator exclosure around a piping plover nest. The structure is a roughly circular fence with a mesh roof which allows piping plovers to move in and out freely, but excludes many predators.
Text: Sometimes structures called exclosures are erected around a nest to further protect the eggs from predators.

Slide 22
Picture: Adult piping plover on the beach among clumps of beach grass.
Text: Many organizations and government agencies are working to protect the piping plover. With everyone's help, the piping plover will recover and no longer be a species threatened with extinction.

Slide 23
Picture: Text "Things You Can Do To Help Protect the Piping Plover." Inset picture of a sign reading "Congratulations! With your help, 5 pairs of piping plovers raised 11 chicks here in 1995."
Text: Remember- everyone can help!

 

 

Last updated: March 21, 2012
All images by FWS unless otherwise noted.