The piping plover
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The Piping Plover. Status. Listed as threatened in 1978 Designated as endangered in 1985 by The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Two subspecies (both listed as endangered in 2001)‏

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  • Listed as threatened in 1978

  • Designated as endangered in 1985 by The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

  • Two subspecies (both listed as endangered in 2001)‏

  • Listed as endangered in 2000 by the province of Nova Scotia under the provincial Endangered Species Act.

Recovery goals atlantic canada
Recovery GoalsAtlantic Canada

  • To achieve a population of at least 670 adults (335 pairs)‏To achieve a productivity level above 1.5 chicks/pair/year.

  • To achieve habitat protection objectives of a minimum of 65% of nesting plovers in Atlantic Canada protected.

  • To evaluate the longer term goal of 800 adults (400 pairs) in relation to habitat availability.

Charadrius melodus

  • Small, sparrow-sized shorebird.

  • Primarily light grey.

  • Black band on its breast and forehead and a partially black tail.

  • White rump

  • Bright orange legs.

  • Orange bill with a black tip, which becomes black in winter.


  • Subspecies melodus breeds along the Atlantic coast from Newfoundland to South Carolina.

  • It winters from South Carolina to Florida, and in the Caribbean (Cuba, Bahamas).

  • About 25% of Canada's Piping Plovers are found in the Atlantic provinces.


  • In Canada, the melodus subspecies breeds on the Magdalen Islands, NB, NS, PEI, and NL.

Population 2003
Population (2003)‏

  • Eastern Canada population 549 (256 pairs) in 2003.

  • 2005 – 444 individuals

  • NS population 107 (48 pairs) in 2003.

  • Censuses since 1996 suggest pop. Relatively stable??

  • Below recovery team goal (670 adults).


  • Nest above the normal high-water mark on gently sloping, exposed sandy or gravelly beaches.

  • Nest among small cobble and other small beach debris.


  • They also forage for food on these beaches or sand flats.

  • Feed on a variety of beach-dwelling invertebrates, including insects, small crustaceans, and marine worms.


  • Arrive in Eastern Canada in April or May.

  • Males arrive first establish a territory.

  • They attract females with dramatic aerial and ground displays.

  • They scrape a shallow nest-site in sand or gravel.

  • The female selects one of the scrapes.


  • Clutches usually contain 4 eggs.

  • Eggs are laid every other day.

  • Incubation lasts for approx. 27-31 days.

  • Parents take turns incubating eggs.


  • Chicks are precocial

  • On their feet and feeding within a few hours.

  • 25 days before they can fly.

  • Fledged young and adults head south from late July to early September.

Why threatened
Why Threatened?

  • Considered common during most of the 19th Century.

  • Nearly extinct by 1900 due to hunting.

  • Peaked in 1940s

  • Habitat loss (development, recreation)‏

  • Predation (nests and adults)

  • Flooding (nests)

Monitoring program
Monitoring Program

  • Southern NS.

  • Three counties, 20-25 beaches.

  • 71% of NS population

  • Field season from late April to end of August


  • Visited beaches weekly

  • Monitored # of birds and activity, nesting success, and fledgling success.

  • Monitored/measured foraging distances of chicks.

Nest protection
Nest Protection

  • Place symbolic fencing and signs around nests.

  • Place wire enclosures over nests to keep out predators.

  • Enclosed nests visited more frequently.


  • Spoke to beach users about piping plover, its status, and minimizing their impact.

  • Assisted with nature camps for Cape Sable Island IBA(2003).

Other duties
Other Duties

  • Beach cleanups

  • Identify nest predators

  • Assist CWS staff (banding)

  • Assist prov./federal wildlife enforcement staff.

Banding program cws
Banding Program (CWS)‏

  • Each bird banded with USGS (US Geological Survey) band and a colour band.

  • Adults have colour bands on the left leg, juveniles have colour band on the right leg.

Guardian program
Guardian Program

  • Mostly volunteers

  • Purpose to decrease human disturbance

  • Raise awareness about the Piping Plover


  • Federal Species at Risk

  • Nova Scotia Endangered Species List

  • Species General Status in Nova Scotia