Prince Edward Island National Park of Canada

Coastal – Protecting Piping Plover

Caption: Parks Canada has been monitoring piping plover populations in Prince  Edward Island National Park since 1982. Caption: Parks Canada has been monitoring piping plover populations in Prince Edward Island National Park since 1982.
© Parks Canada

The piping plover, with its musical call and quick movements, is a lively reminder of our coastline’s fragile beauty.  Each spring, this internationally endangered shorebird returns to Prince Edward Island.  It nests on flat, sandy beaches and uses gravel and broken seashells to help disguise the location of its eggs. 

There are many threats to the survival of this tiny bird and its chicks.  These include disturbances of nests and the surrounding area by people and their pets.  Predators, such as foxes and crows, and unfavorable weather, such as seasonal storms and spring tides, can also destroy nests. 

Parks Canada has been monitoring piping plover populations in Prince Edward Island National Park since 1982.  Beginning in mid-April, when the birds first arrive, staff collect information on their activities, nests and surrounding conditions.  Where eggs are laid, those sections of the beach are closed to visitors to protect the nests and young chicks.  At some sites, staff put up exclosures, or circular fences, around nests to provide extra protection from predators. 

Between 10 and 20 pairs of piping plover typically nest in the park.  “Our goal,” says Linda Thomas, Resource Conservation Technician and coordinator of the park’s piping plover program, “is to have at least two chicks survive from each nest.  Thanks to the steps taken in the park to protect the plover, the productivity of our nests has generally been good.”

When visiting the Park, please respect the nesting areas of the endangered piping plover by not entering closed areas.  If you think you may have found an unprotected nest, report it to park staff.  By learning more about the piping plover and sharing this knowledge with others, you can help protect this endangered species.