Tiny piping plover chick is the fluffy future of this threatened species

July 20, 2014, 1 p.m.
piping plover and chick

For the future of this species, every tiny chick matters

This adorable tiny shorebird is teetering at the brink of extinction, but conservation efforts for the last several decades are tipping the scales ever so slowly back in the bird’s favor. The piping plover is a federally threatened species, and is listed as endangered in the state of Illinois and 11 other states. In fact, they were so close to local extinction that Illinois went more than 30 years without a single documented sighting. Piping plovers breed along the shorelines of the east coast and Great Lakes regions. However, their habitat has been greatly reduced over the decades, and what breeding ground is left also has a host of threats including predation by foxes, raccoons and pets as well as disturbance from humans. The birds are extremely sensitive to disturbances and will abandon their nests entirely if they feel threatened. Conservationists have put in an incredible amount of effort in protecting nests and trying to create safe breeding grounds to attract breeding pairs and, over the years, the efforts have shown success. The total population of piping plovers is currently around 6,500 individuals. If you want to help piping plovers, one of the best things you can do is abide by posted signs asking beach-goers to stick to established paths, or stay clear of certain areas of shoreline where piping plovers are known to nest. Keeping your distance is a sure way to help this tiny bird species endure.

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Google+, and Facebook.