Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, BC (Photo by Tim Ennis/NCC)

Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, BC (Photo by Tim Ennis/NCC)

Piping plover (Photo by Ian Sadler)

Piping plover (Photo by Ian Sadler)

Piping plover

Where does this species live?

The piping plover is an endangered shorebird that relies on sand and pebble beaches and saline wetlands.

What does it look like?

This tiny bird is often confused with similar, more abundant plovers such as semipalmated plover and killdeer. Its sandy colour and small size camouflages the bird from its predators.

What is its conservation status?

Piping plovers have experienced serious population decline since 1945 and the species is designated as endangered under the Species at Risk Act.

In Saskatchewan, the 2006 International Piping Plover Breeding Census counted 1,435 adults (circumcinctus subspecies) in the prairie regions. Remarkably, 20 percent of the world population of piping plover migrates to southern Saskatchewan on an annual basis starting in late April, staying until August.

Census data acquired in 2006 indicated the presence of 28 adults (10 pairs) on Shoe Lake West's 193 acres (78 hectares) of saline wetlands.

In Atlantic Canada in Nova Scotia, there are fewer than 40 breeding pairs; a decline of more than 25 percent since 2001.

According to Bird Studies Canada, "in Nova Scotia, piping plovers breed on less than 30 beaches. Many traditional breeding beaches have been lost due to natural and human-induced changes. In fall and winter, plovers are found along the coast of the southeastern U.S. and the Caribbean Islands."

What is NCC doing to protect habitat for this species?

In New Brunswick's Tabusintac Estuary, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has protected a breeding beach for piping plovers.

NCC works jointly with the Department of Natural Resources, Bird Studies Canada's Piping Plover Guardian Program and others to ensure that piping plovers and other migratory birds continue to grace the shores of Atlantic Canada.

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