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Delaware sees record number of piping plovers

Gary Cooke

Eleven pairs of piping plovers have been reported at Cape Henlopen State Park and Fowler Beach - a record for the First State.



Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control officials say there are seven piping plover nests at Cape Henlopen State Park. One pair’s eggs has hatched, while another pair is laying eggs. Five other pairs are incubating nests at The Point. There are four more nests on Fowler Beach.


Wildlife Research Assistant Kevin Bronson said they may have broken a record, but there’s plenty room for more. 


“The food is available. We have enough. We have plenty of habitat for the numbers we have, and even an increase because [the state] is trying to increase them,” Bronson said.


Last year, as Fowler Beach neared the end of a replenishment project, piping plovers began to make a home in that area. Members of the Delmarva Ornithological Society were looking for shorebirds on the beach, when they noticed a couple of piping plover nests.


Sally O’Byrne, the vice president of the Delmarva Ornithological Society, said it was exciting for the group to see the birds nesting on a recently replenished beach.


“They were just putting in plantings and already this proved to be pretty ideal for piping plovers,” O’Byrne said.


Bronson said it was the first year they ever nested on Fowler Beach.

In the past, Gordon’s Pond has had three nests, so Bronson said he’s expecting a couple to pop up there.


Piping plovers have been considered threatened since the 1980s. From March to September, DNREC closes their nesting areas at Cape Henlopen State Park to the public to protect the shorebirds.  


“Anytime we can create habitats and protection to increase their populations, it’s a good thing,” O’Byrne said.

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