Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Effort

A partnership to study and conserve this migratory shorebird's endangered population between UMN, USFWS, USGS, NPS, DNR, more & You!

GLPIPL Banding Explained & Numbers Update!


Piping Plover Chick with the band combo O,g:X,O/g

Piping Plover Chick with the band combo O,g:X,O/g

We wanted to share that we have reached 71 GLPIPL pairs! This matches the record number of pairs since this population was listed in 1986. We only need one more pair to break the record and add to what has already been an incredible season.

Being the start of July means that there are GLPIPL chicks running around now! The chicks that hatch in Michigan get banded by our banding crew. There are numerous partners that work together to band the chicks that hatch in Wisconsin and Canada.  It’s incredibly important that we band the chicks since the bands act as their name. We can distinguish each individual bird and track that bird as it grows up and as it migrates south to the Gulf Coast for the non-breeding season and then when it returns to the Great Lakes region in the spring to breed.

The chicks are precocial which means they fluff up and are running around, feeding themselves within hours of hatching. They only get faster as they get older, which means that we have a specific time frame when we can band the chicks simply because of our ability to catch them. Their legs are the full grown width, and may lengthen as they mature, but are otherwise fully developed. This allows them to run both to get food and to avoid predation. Having well developed legs allows us to band them at a young age with extremely minimal impact on them.

To increase the number of possibilities for color combinations and to give as many unique combinations as possible, we use either three or four band combinations. The bands we use are made of either plastic or aluminum materials, which makes them extremely lightweight and non-irritable to the birds legs. Other species of birds, both shorebird and not, are banded at a young age with just as many of the same types of bands.

The banding crew is made up of trained professionals. We also are approved and follow all Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) guidelines as well as hold both state and federal bird banding permits. The safety and best interest of the birds is always the first priority. We guarantee that while the act of banding may be intrusive or stressful to the birds, the bands themselves do not largely impact the birds. Multiple studies have supported that the reproductive success, flight ability, overall well being of the bird, and more are not significantly influenced by wearing one or multiple bands.

To learn more about how and why we band GLPIPL, check out our permanent, informational bird banding page.


2 thoughts on “GLPIPL Banding Explained & Numbers Update!

  1. Very informative post; thank you.
    Do I assume correctly that the count of 81 pairs includes 8 in Ontario (3 @ Sauble Beach, 4 @ Wasaga Beach and 1 on Toronto Island) or was Toronto excluded as I understand it was washed out?
    Cheers, Aubrey Ferguson


    • Ms. Ferguson,

      The 71 pairs that have been recorded so far this season do include all of the Canadian pairs. Since we count pairs and not nests officially (we keep track of nests but that is not what we report on) even washouts, predations, abandonment, or other reasons for a nest failure do get counted.

      We hope this clarifies things. Thanks for asking.

      Happy plovering,


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