Piping Plover

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Charadrius melodus

Piping Plover

The Piping Plover is a shorebird and can be found in the central states and provinces in North America. The ones found in the central regions are listed as endangered and this is because they have lost all the available sandy shores to beaches. In the last few years, there has been a sign of improvement, because of the protection they are being given


The Piping Plover is a stout bird with a large rounded head, a short thick neck, and a stubby bill.

Adults have yellow-orange-red legs, a black band across the forehead from eye to eye, and a black stripe running along the breast line. The chest band is usually thicker in males during the breeding season.

The Piping Plover measures about 6.7 to 7.1 inches in length,  with a wingspan of 14 to 16 inches and weighs about 43 to 63 grams.

There are two subspecies of Piping Plovers:

The eastern population is known as Charadrius melodus and the mid-west population is known as C. m. circumcinctus.

The bird's name is derived from its plaintive bell-like whistles which are often heard before the bird is visible.

Their call is a soft, whistled "peep peep" given by standing and flying birds.

The alarm call is a soft "pee-werp", which the second syllable lower-pitched.

They eat mainly insects, marine worms, and crustaceans.

They breed along ocean shores in the Northeast and along lakeshores and alkali wetlands in the northern Great Plains and Great Lakes.

They nest above the high water mark in soft sandy areas with sparse vegetation.

In the winter they use coastal beaches, sandflats, and mudflats.

The Piping Plover migrates to the Gulf of Mexico, the southern Atlantic coast of the United States and the Caribbean. Breeds from southern Newfoundland south to the northern parts of South Carolina.

The male scrapes away sand, gravel, and shells with their feet to make a small depression. They make several small depressions or scrapes in the sand within their territory.

The female will sit and evaluate the scrapes, then choose a good scrape and decorate the nest with shells and debris to camouflage it. The female lays 3 or 4 eggs. Incubation is shared by both sexes and generally lasts 27 days and eggs usually all hatch on the same day.


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