piping plover

Piping plovers are little shorebirds, and they're an endangered species in the Great Lakes region. But they’re making a comeback thanks to conservation efforts and even some heroics.

Piping plovers are little white and gray shorebirds. You might’ve seen them running around on the beach.

Sarah Saunders is a post-doctoral researcher at Michigan State University.

“The majority of the piping plovers in the Great Lakes region nest at Sleeping Bear Dunes,” she says. “The chicks look like little fluffy cotton balls on toothpicks because their legs are really long and they’re very cute. And they make a very high pitched piping noise.”

Plover Versus Merlin in the National Lakeshore

Jun 28, 2012

For decades wildlife officials and volunteers have gone the extra mile to help the piping plover reestablish itself in the Great Lakes. A couple of decades ago the bird was nearly wiped out in the region.

But to help plovers sometimes means killing another threatened species. A small falcon called a merlin is a main predator of piping plovers.

Now there’s a new effort to catch and remove the falcons instead of shooting them. But it’s not easy.

Piping Plovers

Jul 1, 2009

  

It's shaping-up to be a banner year for the Piping Plover.

The Great Lakes population of the small shorebird has been listed as an endangered species since 1986.

At that time, there were right around a dozen nesting pairs.

Today, more than 60 nesting pairs are sitting on nests around the Great Lakes.

Dr. Francie Cuthbert is a professor at the University of Minnesota.    She's also on the staff at the University of Michigan Biological Research Station near Pellston.

And she's been following the piping plover for more than 20 years.