Chicago Field Office
230 South Dearborn St.,
Chicago, Illinois 60604
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Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus),
Great Lakes Population
NEW and EXCITING!!! Three Piping plover chicks from first Illinois nest in 30 years!
Scattered nesting populations of this shorebird formerly occurred on shoreline areas of much of the Great Lakes. Historical declines in the populations have been caused by shoreline habitat alteration, and disturbances caused by human activities. Less than a few dozen breeding pairs are known to persist in the Great Lakes, and the last nesting pair documented in Illinois was in 1973. Because of very low population size, this species is extremely vulnerable to human-caused or natural events. It was listed as a federally endangered species in 1985, and the Service designated critical habitat for the Great Lakes population in 2001.
Historical Records for this Species in Northeast Illinois are available from Lake and Cook counties, and the designated critical habitat is along the Lake Michigan shoreline in the northeastern part of Lake County. In recent years small groups of piping plovers have been regularly observed in northeastern Illinois along the Lake Michigan shoreline during spring and fall migration.
Critical Habitat: Approximately 10.2 kilometers of Lake Michigan shoreline habitat in northeastern Illinois were included in that designated unit. The unit extends from 17th Street in Illinois Beach State Park, southward to the northern Waukegan Beach breakwater, but excludes the public beach and campground in the state park.
Locally, the Chicago Illinois Field office has participated in surveys for nesting plovers within the designated critical habitat in Lake County, Illinois. We also are involved with planning proposed beach nourishment and stabilization projects that could ultimately be beneficial to plovers should they return as a nesting species to northeastern Illinois.