A Foothold for Piping Plovers in Ontario

On my family’s annual beach holiday last month in Maine, we shared the beach with a large enclosure and signs designed to protect the nest of a pair of endangered Piping Plovers from danger (including predatory gulls, beachgoers and dogs). I wasn’t lucky enough to see any plovers, but hopefully this is because they had successfully fledged their chicks and had already departed the beach as a family. The alternative, however – that the nest failed due to disturbance or predation – is an all-too likely scenario for these endangered birds. This possibility has made me think that next year, perhaps a better time for my family to enjoy the beach is at the end of the summer when we definitely won’t be interfering with plovers trying to raise their young.

And that brings me to some good news for Piping Plovers in Ontario – last year was the first time in 30 years that Piping Plovers successfully nested on the Ontario shoreline of the Great Lakes. This summer plovers nested again, and it’s thought that a total of three birds fledged from four nests (two nests at Wasaga Beach, one at Sauble Beach, and one at Oliphant). Hopefully, these little birds are headed south for the winter, and it’s time to celebrate the chicks that fledged, toast the many hard-working volunteers who worked tirelessly to naturalize beaches and protect plovers from danger, and start looking forward to an even better year for Ontario plovers next summer.

Photos: Plover sign and fencing at Ocean Park, Maine by Sarah Wren (top); Plover stewards at Sauble Beach by Ted Cheskey (bottom)