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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : First piping plover chicks of the season hatching at Cape Henlopen State Park

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Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

First piping plover chicks of the season
hatching at Cape Henlopen State Park 

LEWES (June 5, 2014) – This season’s first piping plover chicks began hatching yesterday on the Point at Cape Henlopen, Delaware beachnesting bird monitors reported, noting the nest contained one chick and three eggs when observed. The other eggs were expected to hatch by today.

“We anticipate seeing chicks hatching in another nest on the Point by Friday,” said Wildlife Biologist Matthew Bailey, who coordinates the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Piping Plover Protection Program, noting that a third nest is expected to hatch next week. “A fourth pair of plovers have just begun laying eggs on the Point. We expect that nest to reach a full clutch by this Saturday,” Bailey said.

Meanwhile, at Gordons Pond, two pairs of plovers are incubating their nests, with hatching anticipated during the second and third weeks of June.

In other beachnesting bird news, American oystercatcher pairs continue to be observed at the Point, but no nests have been seen yet. Least terns also are colonizing Gordons Pond, with as many as a dozen terns in the area making scrapes. One least tern nest has been found at the site so far.

For more information about beachnesting birds or monitoring efforts, please contact Wildlife Biologist Matt Bailey at 302-382-4151 or email

About the piping plover
The piping plover was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1986, and the Division of Fish and Wildlife is responsible for its protection in Delaware, where Cape Henlopen is its only current nesting area. Under a binding agreement and subsequent species management plan that DNREC made in 1990 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the federal agency with oversight of this ESA-protected species, piping plover nesting areas at Cape Henlopen State Park are closed annually to the public to protect the shorebirds from disturbance during their March to September nesting season, including the Point and smaller areas around Gordons Pond. The closure, which must include feeding habitat as well as nesting areas, has been successful, increasing the number of piping plover nesting pairs from a low of two pairs to a high of nine pairs. Piping plovers feed on small invertebrates that inhabit the intertidal zone near their nesting territories. Chicks are not fed by their parents, but rather are led to the shoreline to forage while the adults keep watch for potential threats. Allowing pedestrian traffic in the intertidal zone adjoining nesting areas would disturb the vital link between nesting and foraging habitat and risk adverse stress or mortality to the chicks.

 Vol. 44, No. 192

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