Piping Plovers - Wilderness North

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Piping plovers

Piping Plovers

About Andrea and the Piping Plover

I coordinate the Ontario Piping Plover Conservation Program. At my heart, I’m a plover myself, gravitating to beaches and sunshine even in my time off. After leaving my home province of Saskatchewan after university, I worked and travelled abroad exploring many occupations. I eventually landed an internship in South Africa researching and protecting the White-Fronted Plover. I was hooked. Upon returning to Canada, I found summer work with Piping Plovers along the shores of Lake Diefenbaker in Saskatchewan, and now I coordinate the Ontario Piping Plover Conservation Program.

About the Piping Plover

Hatching and raising a family on the beach isn’t easy, even for well-camouflaged birds with feathers that blend into the landscape. Piping Plovers depend on dynamic, healthy coastal ecosystems. Key challenges to the recovery of this small shorebird include habitat loss from coastal development, disturbances from recreation and motorized vehicles, predator pressures, and climate change.

Size & Shape

Piping Plovers are round and stocky little plovers that frequently stand in a horizontal position. They also have round heads and large dark eyes that give them a big-eyed look. The bill is short and stubby.

Relative Size

 Larger than a Least Sandpiper, smaller than a Black-bellied Plover.

Measurements –Both Sexes

 Length: 6.7-7.1 in (17-18 cm)

Weight: 1.5-2.2 oz (43-63 g)

Color Pattern

 Piping Plovers are sandy grayish brown birds with white underparts and a narrow, often broken collar. They have yellowish orange legs in all seasons. In the breeding season, they have an orange bill with a black tip, a black collar, and a black line on the forehead.


 Piping Plovers are nearly invisible until they run a short distance, stop, and tilt forward to pull an insect or worm from the soft sand. They tend to forage alone or in small groups sticking to the higher parts of the shoreline relative to other shorebirds.


 Piping Plovers breed along ocean shores in the Northeast and along lakeshores and alkali wetlands in the northern Great Plains and Great Lakes. They nest above the high water mark in soft sandy areas with sparse vegetation. In the winter they use coastal beaches, sandflats, and mudflats.


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