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Piping Plover Volunteer Program


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Help Protect Endangered Piping Plovers!

Piping Plover - Joe Patson

 Piping Plover - Photo by Joe Patson 

Piping Plover Quick Facts

  • Dwindling populations have landed the Piping Plovers on the federal Endangered Species List. Since being listed as federally threatened, protections of nesting areas have been instituted and the Atlantic Coast population has doubled.
  • Piping Plovers begin arriving and nesting on Delaware's beaches in March. They generally migrate south by September.
  • The numbers of nesting Piping Plovers in Delaware has ranged from a low of two pairs to a record high of 19 pairs in 2019.
  • Historically, most Piping Plover have nested in Delaware at Cape Henlopen State Park but since 2016, Piping Plovers have also been nesting at Fowler's Beach where the breeding pairs have increased annually.
  • In 2019, the Atlantic Coast breeding population exceeded 2,000 breeding pairs for the first time since being listed under the Endangered Species Act (1986). This is one step closer to meeting one of five science-based goals set in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's recovery plan to recover the population. 

What's the Division of Fish & Wildlife doing to protect the Piping Plovers?
As piping plovers begin arriving in Delaware, the Division of Fish & Wildlife monitors their activities. Areas that have been identified as suitable nesting habitat are closed in order to provide disturbance-free zones where the plovers can nest. The Division of Fish & Wildlife continues to monitor the breeding plovers until the last chicks of the season have migrated south.

What do volunteers do?
To ensure continued breeding success, Fish & Wildlife depends on volunteers to help inform the public about the breeding progress of the plovers and that they need to stay out of nesting areas. Although closed off by fencing and signs posted against public entry, people still sometimes enter the closed areas. In doing so, they can harm the birds by stepping on eggs and/or chicks. Trespassers can also cause adults to leave nests, exposing the eggs to sand temperatures of up to 120 degrees on a hot day, and can interrupt feeding efforts. Well-fed, healthy birds have the best chance of survival and reproduction. Volunteers who educate the beach-going public can help to prevent disturbance to plover adults and chicks.

Volunteers should be able to walk to monitoring stations on the beach, which can be as far as 1/2-mile away from parking areas. Volunteers will also be offered training for interacting with the public and answering Piping Plover questions

To Volunteer
Contact Henrietta Bellman, Coastal Avian Biologist: or 302-735-3612.  

 Piping Plover Chicks - Victoria Withington
 Piping Plover Chicks - Photo by Victoria Withington

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