Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Report from the Field: The Piping Plover Story Continues
Midwest Region, July 25, 2010
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Piping plover.
Piping plover. - Photo Credit: Alice Van Zoeren
Jack Dingledine, East Lansing Ecological Service Field Office.
Jack Dingledine, East Lansing Ecological Service Field Office. - Photo Credit: USFWS

As the end of July approaches, the Great Lakes Piping Plover breeding season for 2010 is nearing an end. Although a few late nesters remain with eggs or chicks, many have completed the breeding cycle and are beginning their long journey back to their winter homes. The 2010 breeding season fell slightly short of our goal of a continued increase in population numbers. Our preliminary estimate for this year is approximately 60 breeding pairs. Last season we set the record, with 71 breeding pairs, and we all hoped for a continued increase. Nevertheless, we had another successful year in many regards, and our long-term population trend continues upward.

Like past years, piping plovers in the Great Lakes faced many challenges, such as severe storms, disease and the threat of predation. Lucky for us, and the piping plovers, the many dedicated field staff and other members of the Great Lakes Piping Plover, were up to these challenges and helped to mitigate these threats. And once again many landowners offered their cooperation in protecting the birds by allowing access by field crews and agreeing to limit disturbance. This level of cooperation could not be more evident, than the recent example of the piping plover pair that chose to nest within a few feet of a volleyball net on private property. First discovered by a group of volunteers, the prospect for success for this plover pair seemed limited. But the good will and efforts of all involved resulted in a successful nest, and, at last count, all chicks remained alive and well. Sometimes a program’s success is measured in more than in just numbers.

The many partners in the recovery program will soon meet to discuss the issues of the 2010 breeding season, and plan for the next. Data will be tallied and analyzed, and reports prepared. Some of the field crew, like the plovers, will move on to distant locations. Hopefully both will return next year, in even greater numbers.

Jack Dingledine is an endangered species biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s East Lansing Michigan Field Office.


Contact Info: Ashley Spratt, 805-644-1766 ext. 369, ashley_spratt@fws.gov
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