U. S.: Endangered Piping Plover Birds Spotted in Duluth

Conservationists are excited to have found two endangered piping plover birds hanging around Park Point beach in Duluth, Minnesota. The bird is considered very rare with only 70 known nesting pairs throughout Canada, Michigan, and Wisconsin.


Endangered Piping Plovers Not Seen in Duluth for Over 30 Years

The pair of endangered piping plovers was first spotted by the conservation group St. Louis River Alliance on May 5 and they are still apparently hanging around and travelling on the beach. The group hopes that the two birds find mates and decide to nest in the area.

The city of Duluth and the St. Louis River Alliance are asking the public to stay away from Park Point beach, and keep all dogs leashed, at least through the middle of June, when the breeding season ends. They want the endangered piping plovers to feel safe and at ease there, so they will continue to stay and nest.


Identifying Endangered Piping Plovers

The piping plover is a small bird about the size of a sparrow at about 6 – 7.5 inches in length, 1.5 – 2.3 ounces in weight, and have a wingspan of around 14 – 16 inches.
The endangered piping plover has a beige to sand colored back with a white underside. Both sexes have a distinctive black band over the forehead that spans from eye to eye, with another black to brown band around the neck. They have orange, fairly long legs and an orange, black-tipped beak. The black to brown band around the neck is darker and larger during breeding season in males, and is one of the only ways to distinguish male from female.

The natural habitat of the endangered piping plover is along sandy or gravel beaches and sand flats along the Great Lakes, the Atlantic coastline and the mid-west in the United States and Canada. They make their nests on shoals and gravel beaches. They eat marine worms, crustaceans, and insects generally along the wrack zone of high tide on the water’s edge. They travel along the beach in quick bursts, hunting for food by sight. When standing still, the birds are difficult to spot because they blend very well into their environment.


Natural Habitat Loss Reason for Endangerment

Due to the chosen nesting areas of the birds, they have become highly endangered because of habitat loss. The endangered piping plover likes the areas that humans like as well, the beach, and much of their native home locations are taken over by human development.
There are two subspecies of the endangered piping plover. There is the Charadrius melodus melodus in the east and the Charadrius melodus circumcintus in the mid-west. Both species make their nests in the dry grassy areas above the shoreline and unfortunately, this is also where people like to build homes and resorts. With conservation efforts, the number of breeding pairs has increased since 2003.