For Immediate Release
April 28, 2015
Agata Ketterick, Maine Audubon, 207-781-2330 x232
Meagan Racey, USFWS, 413-253-8558
Mark Latti, MDIFW, 207-287-5216
First Protected Piping Plover Nest of the Season Found in Maine
Wildlife agencies, Maine Audubon ask for help safeguarding nesting areas
On the heels of last year’s highly productive piping plover nesting season, Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and Maine Audubon reported Monday the first nests of the 2015 season, found in the towns of Biddeford and Kennebunk.
With nearly 100 plover chicks taking flight from Maine beaches in 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine Audubon, and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) ask beachgoers and landowners from Ogunquit Beach to Georgetown to help returning plovers have just as much success in 2015.
“We’re excited to ask beachgoers this year to help us watch for piping plovers with pink flags on their legs, a sign that the bird has flown to Maine from the Bahamas,” said wildlife ecologist Laura Minich Zitske with Maine Audubon. “We still have a lot to learn about the birds when they leave our breeding grounds for wintering areas. In addition to pink flags, Mainers can look out for green flags on birds banded in South Carolina or Georgia and for gray or black flags on birds from Canada.”
Piping plovers are protected as endangered in Maine and as threatened under federal law. Federal guidelines request that pets be leashed and under control of their owners at all times from April 1 to August 31 on beaches with plovers. Some areas prohibit dogs starting April 1 every year, including Ogunquit Beach, Crescent Beach State Park in Cape Elizabeth, Ferry Beach State Park in Saco, Scarborough Beach State Park, Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg and Reid State Park in Georgetown. Please check with your local town office, as dog ordinances vary by town on local town beaches.
MDIFW and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Maine have cooperative beach management agreements with the Bureau of Parks and Lands and the Towns of Wells, Ogunquit, Old Orchard Beach, and Scarborough.
“Cooperative beach management agreements and volunteer efforts have been critical in helping the population climb from barely two dozen surviving plover chicks in 2005 to nearly 100 last year,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Maine supervisor Laury Zicari. “We look forward to continuing this work with Maine landowners, volunteer monitors and beachgoers this season, and we urge towns to coordinate with us to support these tiny shorebirds that have nested on Maine’s beaches for thousands of years.”
Beachgoers can help plovers by:
- Respecting all areas fenced or posted for protection of wildlife.
- Watch plovers from a distance to avoid disturbing them.
- Follow local pet ordinances. Dogs are predators of plovers. Federal guidelines recommend leashing even if not required by local ordinances.
- Taking trash or food scraps off the beach. Garbage attracts predators that may prey upon piping plover eggs or chicks.
- Volunteering and reporting bird sightings! See contact information below.
Shoreline habitat for nesting plovers has been reduced in Maine by 75 percent, once providing suitable nesting beach habitat for likely 200 pairs. Last year, 50 plover pairs—the most in the state since 2004—raised 97 chicks to the age of flight (fledging). The 97 fledglings compose the third highest number since monitoring began in Maine. Plovers nest in front of sand dunes on the upper beach and are vulnerable to natural predators, roaming pets, storms and human disturbance.
The Piping Plover Recovery Project, a nearly 30-year collaboration between Maine Audubon, the Service, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and local municipalities, works to educate the public about plover nesting areas to ensure their protection and increase their population.
If you find a plover nest, or would like to volunteer for the Piping Plover Recovery Project, please contact Laura Minich Zitske at [email protected] or (207) 233-6811 or MDIFW at (207) 657-2345. If you see one of the plovers with a pink or other colored flag, please report the following information to [email protected]: the date and specific location the bird was observed, band code, latitude and longitude, a photo if possible, and any other noted information.
About Maine Audubon Maine Audubon’s science-based approach to conservation, education and advocacy advances wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation in Maine. Our citizen science programs connect Maine people to engaging volunteer opportunities that make meaningful contributions to conservation research. The largest Maine-based wildlife conservation organization, Maine Audubon has eight centers and wildlife sanctuaries and serves over 50,000 people annually, with 20,000 members and 2,000 volunteers.
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