The Piping Plover Program is constantly adapting — new information and new plovers drive that change. As a volunteer monitor you will be one of the main sources of information that can help the program adapt and contribute to the recovery of the species in Ontario. The information recorded on data sheets can inform agencies and recovery teams about the plover’s habits, habitat, and behaviour. The volunteer plover monitors are the face of the Piping Plover Program at Sauble Beach and other locales along Lake Huron and Georgian Bay where the plovers choose to nest from year to year. Volunteers can contribute in many ways, depending on their comfort level and skill set. Volunteers are most often required for on-beach monitoring and education. These individuals will spend time on the beach observing plover behavior, recording those observations and interacting with beachgoers to create positive associations between people and plovers. On-beach volunteers will be equipped with the tools to understand plover biology and behaviour, as well as to identify some of the more common species of birds at the beach. They are also provided key messages to help with the protection and recovery of the Great Lakes piping plover.
Volunteers are not enforcement officers, and are not expected to be. Their goal is to record valuable information and to be a source of information for residents, beachgoers, and biologists.
A volunteer may also contribute to the program without being at Sauble Beach. Education is the key goal of this program, and volunteer speakers can use some of the resources available on this site to take those messages to their group, whether it is a naturalist group, classroom, or even a circle of friends.
If you have a specific skill, such as, graphic design, website creation/management or photography, or are looking to donate materials or such services as binoculars, sunscreen, and printing services, let us know! This program is largely funded by grants, and supported by volunteer time and efforts. A little bit can go a long way, and we appreciate the support of people who wish to become involved in piping plover conservation in their own way.
The hope is that an increasing piping plover population will lead to more beaches with plover nesting activity. If you happen to notice a bird on another Ontario beach that may be a piping plover, send as much information as possible, ideally with a photo to our Volunteer Coordinator. Our team will forward that information to the appropriate agency staff (such as Ontario Parks, Canadian Wildlife Service, or Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry). This can help us understand nesting habitat choice, or migratory patterns. You can also report piping plover activity on the beach if you see them in areas that are not near their known nesting sites, for instance when you don’t see fencing anywhere in the area. Information can be reported by email, Twitter, or Facebook. There are some very similar birds that may confuse your identification if you aren’t sure what to look for, and we have information that may help you identify the plovers. If you’re not sure what you saw, let us know anyway with as much information as possible (including date, time, location, general habitat, behaviour, and contact information).