Piping Plover Chick by Bill VanderMolen

Park Protects Piping Plover

via Michigan in Pictures

Piping Plover Chick by Bill VanderMolen

Piping Plover Chick by Bill VanderMolen

If you’re on the Lake Michigan shore in Sleeping Bear this weekend, there’s a chance you may see one of these small shorebirds scurrying along the water’s edge with some unique legwear. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore page on piping plovers says (in part):

The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) is an endangered shorebird. They are sand-colored on the back and white below. During the breeding season adults have a black forehead band between the eyes and a single black band around the neck. (Its larger relative the Killdeer is commonly seen at parks, playgrounds, and golf courses, and has two dark bands around the neck.) Piping Plovers nest only on beaches and prefer beaches with cobble. There are three small populations: one in the Great Plains, one on the Atlantic Coast, and the one here in the Great Lakes. They winter together on the Gulf Coast but travel to the separate areas during the breeding season.

…The greatest concentration of piping plovers in the Great Lakes occurs at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The areas around the nests are roped off during the breeding season to protect the birds from disturbances that would cause them to abandon their nests. Also, plover eggs and small chicks are very well camouflaged. Well-meaning plover watchers could easily step on them if allowed in the nesting area.

…As part of the piping plover monitoring and recovery efforts, each bird is banded with colored bands that identify it. Color bands allow researchers and park staff to keep track of longevity, faithfulness to nest sites and mates, and genetics, among other things.

Lots more including pictures on the Park website.

Bill took this back in July of 2018. See his latest on Instagram!