Piping Plover

Charadrius melodus

Image of a Piping Plover, Charadrius melodus, standing in the sand.
Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region on Flickr, public domain

Physical: Piping Plovers are petite shorebirds with a gentle appearance. Their sandy-colored plumage beautifully blends with beach environments. During the breeding season, they sport a distinctive black band around their forehead and neck, while their legs take on an eye-catching orange hue. They are roughly 7 inches in length and feature a short, stubby bill, perfect for their feeding habits.

Habitat: These birds have a strong preference for sandy beaches, sandbars, and shorelines of lakes and rivers. Their breeding territories are mainly on the northern Great Plains, Great Lakes, and the Atlantic coast, while in winter, they venture to the Gulf of Mexico and the southern Atlantic coast.

Feeding: Piping Plovers primarily dine on invertebrates found on beaches. Their diet consists of small crustaceans, worms, beetles, and other tiny creatures they can glean from the sand or shallow waters. Their feeding routine often consists of quick dashes followed by abrupt stops to pick up prey.

Breeding: They nest directly on open sandy or gravelly areas, sometimes with sparse vegetation. The nests are mere depressions, which they might line with small pebbles or shell fragments. A typical clutch consists of 4 eggs. The chicks are precocial, meaning they can run and feed themselves shortly after hatching, though they still need protection from their parents.

Connect with Us

Sign up for email or connect through social media.