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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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!


6 out of 7 Captive-Reared GLPIPL Chicks from 2015 Seen on Wintering Grounds

Of,b/OB:X,B seen 9/24 by Adam Dinuovo and Jean Hall

Orange flag (upper left) over light blue-orange split over dark blue (lower left), metal band (upper right) over dark blue (lower right) aka Of,b/OB:X,B seen 9/24 by Adam Dinuovo and Jean Hall

Our sixth captive-reared GLPIPL chick from this past summer had a confirmed sighting in Florida this past week. This is significant because only one captive-reared chick from 2015 is left to be seen on the wintering grounds. Six out of seven chicks is incredible success for both our captive-rearing program as well as the birds.

If you are birding on the GLPIPL wintering grounds this year make sure you keep an eye out for banded plovers.  Then tell us! We want to know if you see any banded Piping Plover with orange bands (the Great Lakes indicator color) please email us your sighting at with as much information and detail as possible. Pictures of the bird being reported are greatly appreciated.

For assistance on reading the color bands please check out our permanent page with more details and examples.


Of,b/OB:X,B seen 9/24 by Adam Dinuovo and Jean Hall

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GLPIPL & End of Season Have Distracted Us From Posting

pipl-parent-and-chick.jpgWe know we’re behind on posting and appreciate your patience. We hope that in this lull you’ve gotten a chance to get outside and see some GLPIPL or at least other wildlife in your area.

The reason for this lull is that the 2015 breeding season came to a rapid close. Our banding crew is now on to data entering and analysis, most of our monitors are packing up and heading home, and the birds of course have started their incredible journey south to their non-breeding grounds. There are a few hatch year birds that are stragglers still around in some nesting locations, but otherwise the birds are on the move.

Again, we appreciate the continued support and will post more as soon as everything has transitioned and gotten situated for the non-breeding season.

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Historical GLPIPL Range Represented This Year

General 2015 GLPIPL Breeding Sites (plus Duluth, Minnesota)

General 2015 GLPIPL Breeding Sites (plus Duluth, Minnesota)

As if breaking the record number of pairs (still currently at 73 pairs for 2015) wasn’t enough for this season, the other big story is that the historical range (at least the edges of it) has been represented this year for the first time in decades.

We had birds nesting in the Chicago area (our most southern site) all the way north to the shores of Lake Superior. We also had birds nesting in Toronto and New York on Lake Ontario. And though there was never a nest found, some GLPIPL were also observed in Duluth, Minnesota.

The high water levels and spring weather were definitely obstacles this year in regards to nesting habitat. This may have led to the birds revisiting old nesting sites. We do not have any specific explanation as to why the plovers spread out as much as they did though. It will be interesting to see what the birds do next year and where they breed. As people we can help the plovers overall as well create conducive nesting areas by giving the birds lots of space, keeping our dogs leashed, and other easy acts to be respectful of the wildlife on the beach in general.

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2015 Rescued Captive Reared GLPIPL Now Flying Free

A 2015 rescued captive raised GLPIPL chick on it's way to be released back into the wild.

A 2015 rescued captive raised GLPIPL chick on it’s way to be released back into the wild.

As of July 18th, all seven of the 2015 GLPIPL chicks that were rescued as eggs and raised in our Detroit Zoo sponsored captive rearing center were released. These chicks came from three different nests. Predation on a nest, predation on an adult, and a storm wash out led to these clutches of eggs being collected and brought in. The chicks were incubated and then raised until they were capable of flying by zookeepers that come from across the country to care for the birds.

Four chicks were released at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore and three chicks were released in Manistee. The chicks are released at sites that have wild chicks of similar age. This is done in the hopes that they can learn from each other as well as have protection in numbers. We do a predator analysis as well to ensure the release location is safe.

To learn more about our captive rearing program check out our permanent, informational page: What We Do – Rescue Captive Rearing


History in the Making – Record Number of GLPIPL Pairs this year!

GLPIPL mom brooding (keeping her chicks warm)

GLPIPL mom brooding (keeping her chicks warm)

We are excited to share that there are officially 73 pairs of GLPIPL currently for the 2015 breeding season! This is a new record (previously 71 pairs) since this population was listed as federally endangered in 1986.

The season is quickly wrapping up so stay tuned for more recaps and summaries of the summer.

Also, make sure to check out the website thoroughly to learn more about the project and recovery effort. At the top of the page are permanent reference tabs where you can learn more about the piping plovers specifically, who we arewhat we do, and what you can do. Also make sure to check us out on Twitter and Facebook (@GLPIPL) to get more up to the minute updates from the field.


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Happy July 4th! –Please share the beach and be mindful of GLPIPL

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 12.44.16 PMAs you head out to the beach this weekend to celebrate July 4th, please be mindful of (Great Lakes) Piping Plovers and other shorebirds.  We know that sharing the beach with the birds can seem restricting and the policies in place (such as keeping your dog leashed or giving the birds lots of space) can be annoying. But on behalf of the birds, we greatly appreciate your patience and support. Doing these small things really does help the birds so much.