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Piping plover return signals closure of Cape Henlopen shorline

Gary Cooke
Piping plover and chick

With the discovery of the season’s first piping plover nest at Cape Henlopen’s Gordons Pond Beach, DNREC is announcing the closure of a half-mile stretch of shore at one of the state’s most popular summer destinations.

The area between Herring Point and the Observation Towers will be off limits to the public starting Wednesday, May 20th, to protect the feeding and breeding areas of the migratory shorebirds.
The tiny and well-camouflaged plover chicks are not fed by their parents - but rather directed by them from the nest to the shoreline to feed on small, tidal invertebrates.  That makes the eggs, chicks and their habitat especially susceptible to damage from all outside forces, including off-road vehicles and pedestrians.

The closure has become an annual tradition and usually occurs in the same area of the park.

Volunteers and workers from DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife Piping Plover Protection Program will monitor the birds from a safe distance - while ensuring the public stays clear - until the chicks have fledged in late summer and the area reopens.

Because of decades of habitat-loss and over-predation, the plover is listed globally as threatened and endangered - but through North American conservation efforts like DNREC’s – their numbers have grown and continue to improve.

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