Introducing the Piping Plover: the cutest bird you’ve probably never heard of. These tiny shorebirds make their homes on rocky beaches across North America, nesting in sandy dunes and feeding on bugs and small marine crustaceans. At one time as many as 100 breeding pairs could be found along Ontario’s Great Lakes, but by the late 1970s the plovers had all but disappeared as beaches were developed and important habitat faced increasing human disturbance.
Happily, a pair returned to Lake Huron in 2007 after a small number of dedicated stewards and biologists made a concerted effort to maintain the plover’s habitat. Numbers slowly began increasing, with piping plovers nesting in larger numbers and on more beaches each year. Conservation efforts are now focused on sustaining this positive trajectory by increasing on-the-ground action and community engagement across the province.
Earth Rangers has teamed up with Bird Studies Canada to bolster these efforts to restore Ontario’s Piping Plover populations to historic levels. Throughout 2019, we will work directly with partners and volunteers to:
- Establish fencing and signage to protect piping plover habitat, nests and young
- Build exclosures (areas protected from intruding animals) to reduce predation
- Provide outreach to beachgoers and dog walkers to increase awareness of the plovers
- Improve habitat by removing invasive vegetation, refuse, and providing shelter for fledged young
- Recruit and train volunteers to act as stewards of important beach areas
- Survey beaches to identify new nesting sites as they appear and take action as needed
- Form and strengthen relationships and collaborations with conservation groups, decision-makers, and other stakeholders to implement new policies and increase management efforts
Through Earth Rangers’ Bring Back the Wild Program, kids across Canada are learning more about the plight of the piping plover and what they can do to help this exciting project continue. To learn more about how to get your family involved, visit earthrangers.com/wildwire/piping-plover
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