News & Notes

Browsing posts tagged with: pipl

Piping Plovers: After the rain comes the sun!

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
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Kennebunkport -€“ Goose Rocks beach

Recently, as our team was monitoring Seawall Beach in Phippsburg, we were once again rewarded by the sight of three freshly hatched plover chicks clustered together in a nest around the last egg that was just about to hatch. This was another of the many nests that have hatched during the past two weeks, and is always a welcome sight!

After a particularly adverse beginning of June that saw 22 out of 27 nests statewide washed out by storms and high tides, plovers were confronted with additional challenges as they attempted to re-nest.  At Goose Rocks Beach, two adult  plovers from two different nests were killed and eaten, most likely by a domestic cat. Not only did we lose these two adults from our small breeding population, but the remaining mates could not finish incubating alone, causing both nests to fail. Around that time on the same beach, another nest was predated by a weasel and it was unfortunately too late for the birds to attempt to re-nest. The high rate of predation by domestic cats and other predators on Goose Rocks Beach forced us to take down all the exclosures protecting these nests as our team suspected that the predators were keying in on the exclosures as a source of food. Thus, when a skunk family happened to walk by an unprotected nest that was due to hatch in a the next few days, the eggs made an easy meal and sadly, the nesting plover pair lost their second chance at raising chicks.

It is only now in mid-July that things on the plover beaches seem to be settling back to “normal” and the nests that were spared by the tides and predators have hatched chicks. We are currently in a plover “baby boom”! On some beaches, like Popham, if you pay attention you can see as many as 17 tiny chicks running up and down the beach feeding themselves. Maine beaches are currently host to 52 chicks, which is a lot for a state with only about 40 pairs and is unusually high for mid-July, by which time typically more chicks have already fledged.

Despite this good news, we cannot yet celebrate victory for this season. Although our plover population has shown great resilience so far by recovering from recent setbacks, the chicks are most vulnerable in their first weeks of life. We can help these chicks become fledglings by doing a few small things:  please give the birds some space; fill up holes you dig on the beach (chicks and fall in and become trapped and die); fly kites away from plover areas (they can be mistaken for predators); and keep cats and dogs inside or leash dogs while on the beach. All it takes is a little awareness and respect to help these rare birds survive and thrive. We hope that everyone’s efforts will be rewarded by the knowledge that by the time our endangered Piping Plovers start migrating south in August, their numbers will have increased significantly. If we are lucky, some of this year’s fledglings will return in future summers to breed on Maine’s beaches.

Written by Erik Ndayishimiye


Video: Help Protect Maine’s Piping Plovers

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
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chick head onJimFenton

Watch. Learn. Help.

A very informative video by Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife introducing the piping plover in Maine, it’s habitat, the challenges this species faces, what we are doing and what you can do to help this bird species survive.

Read more about our efforts at the links below.


Tough Summer for Piping Plovers — a reminder to give them space!

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
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Photo: Jim Fenton

It’s been a tough summer for Piping Plovers and plover supporters this summer. However- the season isn’t over yet!

The pairs that lost eggs in June’s big storm and neste again are hatching. Small chicks are a delight to watch; enjoy the from a distance and please keep your pets inside at this critcal time!


Using Fireworks on or Near a Beach? Please be Mindful of Nesting Plovers

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
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The plover chick is about the size of a cotton ball! Photo by Bob Malbon

As you head out for your 4th of July celebrations Maine Audubon reminds you that if you are going to set off fireworks in towns that haven’t banned them to please refrain from doing so near endangered piping plover nests or the wire exclosures that protect them from predators. While many coastal towns have banned consumer fireworks, a few in southern Maine have not yet done so, and beaches in Scarborough and throughout York County are prime plover habitat. In any case, consumer fireworks are illegal to detonate on public property, which includes public beaches.

Last year at this time, before the current law went into effect, a tragic incident at Hill’s Beach led to the deaths of endangered plover chicks due to exposure after a pair of nesting adults abandoned their nest during a non-sanctioned evening fireworks barrage. Let’s work together to ensure history does not repeat itself in 2012. Be safe, have fun, but please be considerate of your neighbors and of endangered species like the piping plover. Thank you.


Kennebunkport Residents Vote to Ban Consumer Fireworks

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
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Maine Audubon is pleased to report that Kennebunkport residents have voted overwhelmingly (550 to 254, more than a 2-to-1 margin) to enact a ban on the sale and use of consumer fireworks in the town. This is good news for endangered piping plovers, whose nests on southern Maine beaches took a major hit a couple of weeks ago during a recent heavy rain storm, which also coincided with astronomical high tides. In York County, where a majority of Maine’s 43 known pairs of piping plovers make their nests, Kennebunkport joins neighboring Old Orchard Beach and Biddeford in enacting local fireworks bans.

Certificate of Election – Town of Kennebunkport June 12, 2012


Heavy rain, and a heavy burden on piping plovers

Friday, June 8th, 2012
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Typical "exclosure" for protecting a piping plover nesting area


Storm damage to a piping plover protected nesting area


Storm damage to a piping plover protected nesting area

Typical "exclosure" for protecting a piping plover nesting areaStorm damage to a piping plover protected nesting areaStorm damage to a piping plover protected nesting area

This past weekend was a difficult one for nesting piping plovers in southern and mid-coast Maine. The high tides and rain storms washed out many of the nests, burying eggs under the sand.

Following an early Spring, this year’s nesting season started earlier than usual given the birds a great head start. Recent weather events came at a time when some of the nests had already hatched, but many nests were due to hatch in the next couple of days. So far we are not aware of any casualties among the adult plovers, however we believe that at least 15 chicks were lost with the inclement weather. Only 5 nests remained intact in the State after the weekend weather, while 22 nests were lost from Ogunquit to Georgetown.

Piping Plovers have been known to renest after the 1st nesting attempt has failed and since it is still early in the season, we are hopeful that at least some of the birds will renest, but even so, they face additional challenges since those who renest will be incubating and tending chicks in the middle of the summer when beaches are more crowded.

Right now we are working hard to remove fallen exclosures and assess damage; we will keep you posted on our progress. We also encourage anyone who has any information about possible dead plover chicks or new nesting activity to contact us.

This is a good reminder of how fragile and vulnerable Piping Plovers are. We thank the beachgoers who respect our requests to stay away from nesting areas and keep their dogs on leash. We welcome and appreciate any questions you may have for us. After this recent weather setback, we really need everyone’s cooperation and assistance in order to help these birds overcome this hurdle and be successful this season. With just about 40 pairs now, more than ever, every egg counts!

Written by Erik Ndayishimiye