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Prince Edward Island National Park of Canada

2014 Season Summary

piping plover nest

In 2014, there were eight simultaneous piping plover breeding pairs in Prince Edward Island National Park (PEINP). This is two more breeding pairs since 2013 and is higher than the average number found in PEINP in the last five years (5.4) but still lower than the historical average (15.2) of breeding pairs present between 1987 and 2013.

Sixteen birds were observed on June 4th during the annual index count. Throughout the season, there were 13 nest attempts which yielded 44 eggs. Three nests were successful in hatching nine chicks. Six chicks fledged, giving a fledging rate of 0.75 chicks per pair, much lower than the targeted productivity of 1.65. Of the 10 unsuccessful nesting attempts, flooding was the main cause of loss (3), with predation accounting for 2 losses, and nest abandonment due to inclement weather (buried in blowing sand) the cause of one lost nest. Unknown causes accounted for the remaining 4 unsuccessful nest, although flooding was expected to be the cause for two unknowns and predation the cause of one.

Interesting notes from the 2014 season:

  • In collaboration with the Environment Canada, nine piping plover were banded in PEINP in 2014, including five adults and four chicks. One banded adult was observed in the Magdalen Islands five days after losing its’ nest at the end of June.
  • A particularly noteworthy event took place in Greenwich this year, where a common tern (Sterna hirundo) was laying eggs in a piping plover nest, had evicted the piping plover pair with aggressive behaviour and was incubating the clutch. This behaviour has not been observed in the Atlantic region previously but oddly enough was also observed in Cape Breton this year. The piping plover pair did not abandon the nest in PEINP and defensive and stressed behaviours were observed. After two attempts to remove tern eggs from the nest, the tern would not leave the piping plover nest and an exclosure was placed around this nest to keep the common terns from further disturbing the nest and breeding pair. Without being exclosed, the likelihood of survival for this nest was very low. With the exclosure, three of the four eggs hatched, with two chicks fledging. Unfortunately, the third chick was only observed once and appeared to be quite weak; it did not survive. The forth egg was examined by the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island. The egg was either not fertilized or failed very early in the chick’s development.

For more information or to report plover sightings please call our administration office at (902) 672-6350. Hours of operation are Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.