Immediate Need for Volunteer Piping Plover Guardians

Kim Toews and her son Brendan discovered endangered Piping Plovers at Sauble Beach in 2007 and at Oliphant in 2008. They are dedicated to the recovery of these shorebirds, but need your help. In this guest post, Kim shares the most recent updates about the Sauble Beach Piping Plovers and asks for volunteer Piping Plover Guardians:

For the third year in a row, endangered Piping Plovers have returned to Sauble Beach, located on the South Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. Sauble Beach is beginning their busy summer season and more volunteers are needed to monitor and protect the Piping Plovers.

At present, Sauble Beach has three pairs of Piping Plovers nesting along its sandy shores. Piping Plovers are one of Canada’s rarest birds and are under immediate threat of extinction. They have been listed as an endangered species and are protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Piping Plovers make their nests in the wide open sand or areas with very sparse vegetation. These locations leave them exposed to a number of threats such as predation from gulls, merlins and raccoons, and disturbance from cats, dogs and human activities. Wire predatory exclosures – that the Plovers can hop through, but denying larger avian and other predators access – have been erected over the nest sites. The birds themselves blend into the beach as they are the colour of dry sand, with a thin black band around their neck and across their forehead during breeding.

In 2008, one pair of Piping Plovers successfully nested at north Sauble Beach, fledging one chick. Another pair at Oliphant also nested successfully and one chick fledged. This successful nesting season marks a new beginning for Piping Plovers along the Canadian Great Lakes after 30 years of absence from the region.

We are looking for individuals who can volunteer immediately as Piping Plover Guardians. Volunteers will spend time on the beach monitoring and protecting the Plovers from any disturbances that might affect their nesting activities. Volunteers will also educate the public about the Piping Plover and what they can do to help. Information will be provided to the guardians.

In order to provide full protection to the Piping Plovers, two to three volunteers are needed for each four-hour shift (between the hours of 9:00 am and 9:00 pm).

Your help is needed. Please volunteer to be a Piping Plover Guardian. For more information contact Stewart Nutt at stew@synsol.ca or (519) 372-8588, or Sue Seibert at saubleplover@gmail.com or (519) 422-3610.

(Thanks Kim! We wish you success with the Piping Plover Guardians this summer, and look forward to more updates from southern Ontario. Thanks to Brendan Toews for this beautiful photo of an adult female Piping Plover with chick at Sauble Beach, Ontario, taken on June 30, 2008.)