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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : Piping plover chicks trying their wings at Gordons Pond

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

Piping plover chicks trying their wings at Gordons Pond
‘Threatened plant’ alert: Seabeach amaranth spotted sprouting early
at Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore state parks 

LEWES (July 17, 2013) – Piping plover monitors are watching closely as two plover chicks try their wings at Gordons Pond, in order to determine when the chicks can officially be declared fledged. With their parents defending them along the pond shoreline, the chicks have been observed taking short flights.

At the Point, all five pairs of piping plovers have completed incubation of their nests. Chicks belonging to two of the Point’s pairs have been seen taking short flights. Another set of Point parents have been seen primarily on the bay side tidal flats, defending a single chick, while a fourth nest just hatched on July 3.

The status of chicks from the fifth nesting pair on the Point remains unknown. A full clutch of eggs had been observed in the nest, but monitors were unable to determine a hatch date due to unusual circumstances.

“This nest was hidden deep in a stand of beach grass, which is unusual in a species that prefers nesting on open sand or sparsely vegetated dunes. Because of this, monitors had not been approaching the nest too closely, in order to avoid disturbing broods of newly hatched chicks and possibly drawing predators,” said Wildlife Biologist Matthew Bailey. When no adults had been observed in the area of the nest for more than two days, monitors checked and found no eggs in the nest and no sign that predators had taken the eggs. 

“The adult plovers have since been seen in the general area of their nest acting defensively,” Bailey said. “The nesting area is heavily vegetated, and determining the status of this brood would require disturbing the site by ‘beating of the bush,’ so we haven’t been able to determine if any chicks are there.” 

Seabeach amaranth, which is listed as a threatened plant under the federal Endangered Species Act, has gotten off to an early start this summer, Bailey noted. Typically, substantial numbers of this plant are not seen on Delaware’s beaches until late July or early August. This season, the first plant was discovered on July 4 at Gordon’s Pond, with an additional four plants observed since then. A search at Delaware Seashore State Park on July 10 turned up an astounding 50 more seabeach amaranth plants, Bailey added.

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

Vol. 43, No. 281
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