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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : First piping plover chicks spotted at Cape Henlopen

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

First piping plover chicks spotted at Cape Henlopen  

LEWES (May 29, 2015) – One of five piping plover nests this spring on the Point at Cape Henlopen State Park has hatched and chicks have been spotted on the beach, while a second nest is in the process of hatching, Division of Fish & Wildlife beach-nesting monitors reported today. The fifth and most recent nest was found last weekend and contains two eggs so far.

The season’s first nest began hatching May 25, with one of the eggs showing cracking where the chick was pecking its way out (a process known as “starring”). One fluffy chick has been seen so far in the second nest, while the other three plover pairs on the Point continue to incubate their nests. The plover pair at Gordons Pond also continues to incubate their eggs.

In other beachnester news:
Monitors are continuing to watch two American oystercatcher nests at the Point with adults incubating. No oystercatchers are displaying nesting behavior at Gordons Pond, however.

Least terns at Cape Henlopen have advanced to the next stage in their breeding cycle with a few scrapes found and some defensive behavior being shown by the birds.

At Delaware Seashore State Park, a three-egg oystercatcher nest was found on May 10 on the ocean beach and is being incubated by both adults. Since the nest was found with a complete clutch, a date of potential hatch cannot be determined. Fencing has been built around the nest to protect it from disturbance.

For more information on beach-nesting birds and monitoring efforts, please contact Matthew 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. 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 nesting season which usually runs from March into September. This includes the Point and smaller areas around Gordon’s Pond. The closure has been successful, increasing the number of piping plover nesting pairs from a low of two pairs to a high of nine pairs, and must include feeding habitat as well as nesting areas. 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. 45, No. 173

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