Archives for 2022

Jun
29
Happy Canada Day - to you AND the endangered Piping Plover!

 

Regina, SK – June 29, 2022 – With summer holidays starting full force ahead, many are heading out to our beautiful Saskatchewan beaches for some summer fun! While enjoying some beach time be sure to watch out for other families sharing the beaches, including the endangered shorebirds, Piping Plovers!

These cute, and surprisingly well camouflaged, shorebirds nest on sandy or gravelly beaches above the high water line, and adults may also be seen closer to the water’s edge looking for invertebrates to eat. The nests are incredibly well-camouflaged and consist of a shallow depression lined with small pebbles that contains about 4 speckled eggs. “Piping Plover eggs are very difficult to see and easy to accidentally trample or run over, so we are asking the public to watch carefully as they enjoy the sunshine along our shorelines”, says Rachel Ward, Plovers on Shore coordinator.

Peak hatching occurs in mid-June, but late nesters may still have eggs on the beaches. At this time of year, Piping Plover hatchlings are also exploring our beaches! These tiny chicks are quite hard to see and will crouch motionless when they detect predators (or humans). Since they are not able to fly for the first couple weeks, until their wings mature, they are very vulnerable. Adult Piping Plovers will do their best to protect them, by attempting to lure predators away from the nests or chicks by faking a broken wing and calling loudly. If you see a Piping Plover that appears to be acting injured make sure to carefully watch your step as you leave the area to avoid stepping on eggs or chicks!

You are most likely to see or hear an adult Piping Plover before seeing a nest or chicks. They are small with a sandy-coloured back, white belly and several distinctive markings - a single black neck band, a black band on the forehead, and a short black-tipped orange bill. While Piping Plovers appear similar to Killdeer, Killdeer are larger, darker brown and have two black neck bands. Piping Plover chicks appear to resemble cotton balls on stilts, however their backs are a speckled sandy brown.

Our province provides important nesting habitat for these adorable endangered shorebirds. “Saskatchewan is home to the highest number of breeding Piping Plovers in Canada, so we feel responsible to keep these birds safe as they raise their young and prepare for the long trip back south” says Rachel.

If you come across a nest site or think you may have seen a Piping Plover, please call our toll free Hoot Line at: 1-800-667-HOOT (4668).

 

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For further information please contact Nature Saskatchewan:     

 

Rachel Ward, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator
(306) 780-9832
outreach@naturesask.ca

 

Rebecca Magnus,  Species at Risk Manager
(306) 780-9270
rmagnus@naturesask.ca

          

Photo credits: R. Ward

 

 

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