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!

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The GLPIPL Website is Migrating! Follow us!

screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-1-36-28-pmOur website is migrating to a new location! In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Great Lakes Piping Plovers being listed as endangered we are revamping our website. We hope you check it out and bookmark the new url:

The current website (what you’re reading right now) will no longer be active after this post and the entire site will be shut down in the near future.

Thank you so much for your continued support and we hope you enjoy the new website!


“Old Man Plover” (BO:X,g) made it south!

BO:X,g - a male Great Lakes Piping Plover and currently the oldest living GLPIPL

BO:X,g – a male Great Lakes Piping Plover and currently the oldest living GLPIPL

The oldest plover in the Great Lakes population has returned to his South Carolina winter home. His mate from 2014 and 2015, Of,GL:X,Y,  was the subject of a previous post on May 22.

This fellow known as BO:X,g (for the pattern of band colors on his legs) in Michigan and Old Man Plover in South Carolina, hatched way back in 2002 at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. He has been nesting near his hatch site since 2005. He currently holds the record for the oldest male ever known in the Great Lakes population. Two females have tied with him at 14 years. In addition he also usually wins the race to return to his nesting territory, or ties with another male. In spring of 2016 he returned on April 13, as did “Packer Boy” who nests at Manistee, MI.

I feel quite attached to him. We’ve been part of the Great Lakes Piping Plover program for nearly the same length of time. (I started in 2004) The first nest I found in my first year of nest searching was his first nest. I’ve watched him successfully raise and fledge 36 chicks over the years…he seldom has lost any.

At the end of each summer he wings his way south to South Carolina where a different set of plover monitors wait for him. This fall was his 15th trip south! We don’t know exactly what route he takes, but if he flew directly from his summer territory at Sleeping Bear Dunes to his winter territory near Charleston, SC and back, he would have migrated 25,752 miles so far. (The circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles)

I hope to see him back up at Sleeping Bear Dunes again next April.

David McLean in South Carolina has made a post about Old Man Plover’s return at


Written by:

Alice Van Zoeren – Summer Plover monitor, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore; University of Minnesota Non-breeding sightings coordinator for Great Lakes Piping Plovers

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Thank you for your support as 2016 GLPIPL season is in full swing!

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 take the time to write a quick thank you note to all of you.

We’re grateful to have your support during the breeding season. We also appreciate your patience with us and our communication during these months. Our website and social media are run by the same people that are in the field every day with the plovers, which is why there is not a regular posting interval or schedule. Make sure to follow us across all of our platforms (our website, Twitter, and Facebook) so you don’t miss anything about the plovers.

Thank you again!

The current count as of June 10th for the 2016 season is 64 pairs. On this day last year there were 62 pairs. The cumulative total for 2015 was 75 pairs.


An Incredible GLPIPL Tale

The journey of Of,GL:X,Y…as best we can piece it together.


Of,GL X,Y at Presq'ile Prov Park, ONT, Photo: D Bree, 5-3-2016

Of,GL X,Y at Presq’ile Prov Park, ONT, Photo: David Bree, 5-3-2016

One of the fascinations of working with individually marked and identifiable Piping Plovers is being able to piece together parts of their life stories and behaviors that we would otherwise be unable to discern.

One such story has developed recently…

Of,GL:X,Y (“named” for her bands. Left leg – Orange flag, Green, bLack. Right leg – X for USGS aluminum band, Yellow) hatched in 2011 at Silver Lake State Park, south of Ludington, MI, and has nested since 2012 near the mouth of the Platte River in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. She has only been reported once on wintering grounds, in January of 2013, on an island off the coast of Louisiana. Because Piping Plovers are very tied to their wintering, as well as their breeding territories, it’s likely that she spends winters in that area and began her journey north from there.

This spring she didn’t return to Sleeping Bear Dunes at the usual time. Her mate from the past two summers, 14-year- old BO:X,g (Left leg – Blue, Orange. Right leg X for USGS aluminum band, light green) waited here alone for a mate to arrive.

Of,GL X,Y 2016 travels

Of,GL X,Y 2016 travels

On 5/2 and 5/3, David Bree, Park Naturalist at Presqu’ile Provincial Park on the north shore of Lake Ontario, spotted and photographed her 420 miles (675 km) east of her usual summer destination. He reported his observation to and our tracking of her travels began. It’s possible that the persistent northwest winds this spring blew her off course. She was seen at Presq’ile again on 5/8, but by 5/9 and 5/10 she had traveled 120 miles (190 km) west where monitors at Wasaga Beach, Ontario, observed her. Then, for an unknown reason, she returned to Presq’ile Provincial Park for 5/12 and 5/13.

Four days later, by 5/17, she had traveled 420 miles (675 km) back to Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. She was first spotted here by monitors on North Manitou Island, only 25 miles (40 km) as the plover flies from her usual nesting spot. By the next day she had found her way back to her old summer home at the mouth of the Platte River in Sleeping Bear Dunes, and was seen hanging out near her old mate BO:X,g.

I wish I could say it was a match made in heaven, however on 5/19 she was gone and BO:X,g had taken up with a one-year- old female who arrived here first. Now we’re hoping to hear that someone has seen her in a new location, and that she’ll soon have a new mate and be laying eggs.

Stay tuned for updates. Hopefully her story will continue.


Thank you to all the monitors whose detailed observations and diligent reporting have made it possible to piece together this story of Of,GL:X,Y’s spring travels.


Written by:

Alice Van Zoeren – Summer Plover monitor, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore; University of Minnesota Non-breeding sightings coordinator for Great Lakes Piping Plovers

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Today is Endangered Species Day! Celebrate GLPIPL!

GLPIPL mom brooding (keeping her chicks warm) Photo credit: Roger Eriksson

GLPIPL mom brooding (keeping her chicks warm)
Photo credit: Roger Eriksson

Today is Endangered Species Day and we hope everyone takes an extra moment to celebrate GLPIPL and all the other amazing endangered species in our world.

We also want to take this time to thank all of you for your continued support! There is no “I” in Great Lakes Plover Recovery Effort, and the success of conservation efforts being done to help this species wouldn’t be possible without everyone. The sighting reports, beach monitoring, spreading the word, and more make such a huge impact for the project. The kind comments we receive are wonderful and we’re so grateful. Don’t forget though that telling a friend about piping plovers and how simple actions on the beach and with the plovers mean so much too! Even small things like keeping your dog leashed in areas near piping plovers or respecting roped off areas to give plovers their much needed space, are all really important things that make a big difference. The continued success of the Great Lakes Piping Plover (GLPIPL) will take all of us continuing to chip in and do our part.

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First GLPIPL Nest of 2016 Breeding Season

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 2.11.50 PMEarlier today, the first Great Lakes piping plover nest of 2016 was discovered by monitors at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

This nest is a full week earlier than the first nest found last year. In 2015, Ludington State Park held the title for first nest discovered.

The breeding season is officially in full swing and chicks will be on the beaches of the Great Lakes in about a month!


Please note: One of our trained and experienced workers took the picture included in this post last year. It was taken quickly when setting up the protective exclosure to prevent predators from accessing the nest as easily. We ask that everyone always respect the plovers and their eggs/chicks by giving them lots of room. Giving them lots of room decreases the level of disturbance and stress they experience. Thank you!