Cheryl Ferguson

September 16, 2015 is Plover Appreciation Day

Cheryl Ferguson Articles, Global News

Greetings “Plover Lovers” as we celebrate Plover Appreciation Day with you! Thank you Birdlife Australia & The Hooded Plover Program for reaching out to us.

It’s a great opportunity to meet other Plover Lover volunteers and share experiences globally.
Given the time difference between Australia & Ontario, Canada …. your celebration started ~14 hours ago?

Our species of plovers is called the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) and is protected provincially by the Ontario Endangered Species Act, federally by the Species at Risk Act and the Migratory Birds Convention Act. They are found only in North America & the Caribbean.

Australia’s Hooded Plover’s habitat requirements and threats are very similar to our Piping Plovers, so we can understand your concerns.

Our breeding season commenced in April of this year, and in August, the Piping Plovers left the area to return to their wintering grounds south of us.
Even though our season is over, we are delighted to share our story with you.

The Piping Plover is a small migratory shorebird that’s ~18 cm tall and can weigh ~ 43 – 63g. It camouflages easily on our sandy shores as its back and head is the colour of dry sand. When breeding they have a black breast band, a black brow band between the eyes, and an orange bill with a black tip.

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During the non breeding season the adult piping plovers closely resemble the chicks.

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The Piping Plover’s breeding range includes the Canadian Prairies, US Great Plains, Canadian & US Great Lakes, Eastern Canada & the US Atlantic regions. The wintering range is commonly in the US on the Atlantic & Gulf Coast as well as areas further south, extending to the Bahamas and perhaps further. Life is tough for these shorebirds as they fly ~ 5,000km roundtrip to save their species from extinction.

Our “Great Lakes” Piping Plovers nest on the eastern shores of Lake Huron in the municipality of South Bruce Peninsula, commonly referred to as Sauble Beach.
In 2007 the Piping Plover returned to nest on Sauble Beach after a 30 year absence.

Our first Piping Plover arrived in Sauble Beach on April 30. The others that followed were in for a big surprise. The winter had been bitterly cold and persistent strong NW winds resulted in a stagnant ice jam along the shoreline until May 18th! The birds enjoyed their critters on ice!!

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However; this did not seem to stop the 4+ male piping plovers that were digging scrapes in hope of enticing the only female on the beach!

Eventually the birds & the weather settled down and nesting season was in full force.
In the end we had a total of 15 piping plovers on the beach, 4 nests, 15 eggs, 8 hatchlings but only 3 chicks fledged. Predator management is high on the list of priorities!

A special thank you to our 32 volunteers who spent countless hours ‘watching chicks on the beach’, their dedication & devotion to this species is sincerely appreciated!!

Wishing you much success in your endeavour to create an awareness of your plover species and its needs.