- The piping plover is a shorebird that nests only on beaches.
- It was first listed as an endangered species in 1985.
- Plovers are found at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and other shoreline locations on Lake Michigan, Huron and Superior from early April to mid-August.
The Need for Management
In 1985, the piping plover was on the brink of extinction with only 12 breeding pairs left in the wild nationwide. Many of their nesting areas had been affected by human disturbance, urban development and rising water levels.
Now, there are over 50 breeding pairs of piping plovers on Michigan shores alone. Every adult plover is given a unique band to track its health and migration patterns. Controlling human access to nesting areas and planning for rising water levels have made piping plover nests safer from potential threats.
The piping plover’s recent success on Michigan shores is largely attributed to:
- A monitoring and protection program led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan DNR, the University of Michigan Biological Station and other like-minded organizations.
- Captive rearing, in which zoological societies such as John Ball Zoo and Detroit Zoo take eggs from abandoned nests and place them in an incubator. After the chicks hatch safely in captivity, they are released into the wild.
- Marking and blocking off piping plover nesting sites to prevent human interference.