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Piping Plover population perseveres in First State

Gary Cooke

One endangered species of shorebird in Delaware is continuing its comeback. 

The tiny, camouflaged bird known as the piping plover is nesting in Delaware in record numbers for the second year in a row.   

DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife reports 19 nesting pairs of plovers with 52 fledglings. Last year there were 16 pairs with 36 fledglings. 

Most of the birds are nesting at the site of a 2016 habitat restoration project at Fowlers Beach at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. 

“We don’t know yet how many that new beach up a Fowlers can support, but it’s exciting and I hope that Delawareans can feel like partners in assisting in this kind of recovery effort and play a crucial role in supporting wildlife conservation,” said Henrietta Bellman, the state’s Coastal Avian Biologist. 

Bellman notes the approximately two miles of beach has proven a successful habitat. It is home to 15 pairs of nesting plovers this year. There were only two when it was first restored.

“It’s un or sparsely vegetated and sandy which is exactly the type of habitats we find piping plovers nesting on,” she said.

The piping plover is a federally-listed threatened species and a Delaware state-listed endangered species. 

Bellman says Delaware is part of four recovery areas along the Atlantic coast with the goal of collectively sustaining 2,000 pairs of plovers for five years.

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