Maine Audubon had the honor of visiting with some nesting Piping Plovers at Popham Beach State Park this morning with Maine’s 1st District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, updating her on our progress protecting these federally threatened shorebirds.
Congresswoman Pingree has long been a champion for wildlife and biodiversity, and now plays a critical role in the future of wildlife funding as Chair of the House Appropriations Interior & Environment Subcommittee.
Maine Audubon ecologist and Director of the Coastal Birds Project Laura Minich Zitske was happy to share the progress she’s made with the help of her crew of biologists, as well as hundreds of volunteers working on beaches up and down the southern coast. From a low of just 10 nesting pairs in the early 1980s, more than 110 pairs of birds have been counted so far this summer.
But that amazing progress is fragile. Part of the visit today was to survey the nests to see whether the combined effects of astronomical high tides and heavy rains this past weekend washed out any nests at Popham. At least ten nests were lost over the weekend on other beaches, though everything appears to be safe at Popham.
Laura and two of her Plover Crew biologists, Emma Palmer and Sam Smith, were pleased to show Congresswoman Pingree and her staff a nesting pair of Piping Plovers, including a “shift change,” where a female plover returned to take over egg-sitting duty from the male. It was a beautiful morning to be on a beach in Maine, and an excellent opportunity to share amazing progress made thanks to the Endangered Species Act.