In addition to management and other activities in the field, outreach is a critical component of the Piping Plover and Least Tern Recovery Project. Our team regularly organizes outreach sessions to talk with beachgoers, beach residents/landowners, local beach associations, lifeguards, police, school kids and others. The goal of our outreach program is to educate people about Piping Plovers on their local beaches–we tell them about the biology of the birds, the challenges they face, and what we can all do to help protect them.
In July and August, our team talked with two groups of elementary and preschool children at the Goose Rocks Beach Association summer camp. About 70 curious kids attended and showed a lot of enthusiasm for learning about these birds. Their questions were very astute, like “why do plovers pretend to have a broken wing when approached by people?” During the most recent session, kids enjoyed creating their own Piping Plover chicks made out of cotton balls and dry spaghetti (see photos). They also played a game to learn more about where plovers live, what they eat, and what likes to eat them. At the end of the sessions we handed out cool Piping Plover temporary tattoos. The first session was such a hit, that they requested another session the following month!
In addition to the above efforts, our team also regularly sets up a table near beaches where plovers nest to talk more informally with beachgoers about the birds.
So far this summer the Maine Audubon team has talked to over 3,700 people about Maine’s Piping Plovers. We are looking forward to continuing outreach activities next season and we encourage private associations and other groups whose activities are related to conservation or environmental education to contact us to organize educational talks and activities.
Written by Erik Ndayishimiye