Adult piping plovers will stagger and fake a broken wing to distract predators from their nests and chicks.
Did you know?
New Jersey has over 70 endangered and threatened species.
Bahamas Piping Plover Conservation Project
The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) is a small sand-colored shorebird that spends the fall and winter months on the Southeast Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the U.S., the Caribbean, and Mexico. Recent research has revealed that the majority of the Atlantic Coast population, which breeds on beaches and shorelines from North Carolina to Maine in the U.S. and Eastern Canada, winters in the Bahamas.
Although piping plovers spend at least half their lives on their wintering grounds, less is known about their wintering sites than breeding sites. An international group of government agencies and environmental organizations, including Conserve Wildlife Foundation (CWF) are collaborating to learn more about the wintering habitats and distribution of piping plovers and the threats they face.
Once more common throughout their range, piping plovers are currently listed as threatened or endangered in the U.S., Canada, and many individual states (including New Jersey). As a result, they are closely monitored by biologists to gauge their breeding success. The sites where they nest are intensely managed to reduce the impacts of human disturbance, predators, and other threats. If you would like to learn more about the CWF's efforts on the breeding sites, check out the beach nesting bird webpage.
Piping plovers need both safe resting (roosting) locations and productive feeding (foraging) areas at their winter sites. The tidal flats, where they forage, are especially important for piping plovers in the Bahamas, as well as for a number of marine species – bonefish, conch, sharks – that have considerable commercial and ecological value. Protection of these habitats will help ensure the survival of piping plovers and sustain the long-term environmental health of the Bahamas.
Piping Plovers are vulnerable to human disturbance, dogs, predators, flooding, and loss of habitat from development and invasive species such as the Australian pine, (Casuarina) and the Hawaiian sea grape. You can help the piping plover by keeping your distance from shorebirds on the flats and beaches where they feed and rest. Please keep your dog(s) off the beach where birds are present and under the control of a leash.
Assessments of threats and critical habitat are still in the early stages in the Bahamas, but it is an important step to ensure full life cycle conservation.
CWF is working with a number of organizations in the Bahamas to increase knowledge about piping plovers on the wintering grounds. CWF is partnering with Friends of the Environment on Abaco to develop and implement outreach and awareness strategies with students and the general public. More recently CWF also began similar work on Eleuthera. CWF has conducted surveys starting with the 2011 International Piping Plover Census, and each year since, including the just completed 2016 Census. Working with Bahamas Natural Trust, USGS, USFWS and National Audubon Society, these surveys helped determine the distribution and abundance of piping plovers in the Bahamas; information being used to inform conservation efforts there.
To learn more about piping plovers and our role in the Bahamas, check out the mini documentary we made.
CWF is conducting band resight surveys on Abaco and Eleuthera as part of long-term survival studies. Uniquely we are also conducting resighting surveys on the breeding grounds and migration in New Jersey, allowing us to link connections along the entire Atlantic Coast flyway. If you see a banded Piping Plover, learn how to report it.
Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey observed a Piping Plover, Grey E4, on a small quiet beach on Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, the Bahamas. After reporting the band combination, researchers responded it was banded as a chick the previous season in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, specifically at White Point Beach Resort. The additional images are resightings of other banded Piping Plovers. Of special note, the pink flags represent plovers banded on the winter grounds in the Bahamas.
One of CWF’s most exciting Bahamas initiative is the Shorebird Sister School Network, a program which brings together students from the Bahamas and the U.S. (New Jersey). It emphasizes the international link for the life history and conservation of piping plovers between their breeding grounds in the U.S and Canada and their wintering habitat in the Bahamas. Currently the program has two schools on Abaco, and one school on Eleuthera and their three sister schools in New Jersey. However, CWF will continue to build its relationship with other schools to expand the program, including plans to add Canada partners.
Among the activities implemented through the Shorebird Sister School Network include in-school visits, field trips, and the development of joint projects, typically involving art (such as the creation of interpretive signs that incorporate original student artwork). The field trips in the Bahamas allow students to observe wintering piping plovers and other shorebirds of concern first hand and discuss their conservation, as well as teach them how to use scopes/binoculars and develop observational skills. Students in the U.S. also received the same experience, but observe the birds on their breeding grounds. Students have completed other activities in the field, including the removal of over 2,000 (to date) invasive Australian Pine (Casuarina) trees that degrades piping plover habitat, shoreline change (erosion) assessments, wrack line investigations, beach ecology treasure hunts, and trash/debris clean-ups.
Mini-lessons on shorebird anatomy and foraging behavior have been established as the program continues to grow and evolve. Participating students recently created a piping plover activity book that CWF has distributed throughout New Jersey and the Bahamas. Working closely with individual teachers, information about piping plovers and their habitats has also been incorporated into school curriculum in a multi-disciplinary manner in both the New Jersey and Bahamas schools.
The Shorebird Sister School Network is currently comprised of these schools in New Jersey and their partnering sister schools in the Bahamas:
- Ocean City Intermediate (Ocean City, New Jersey)
- Leeds Avenue Elementary School (Pleasantville, New Jersey)
- Amy Roberts Primary School (Green Turtle Cay, Abaco)
- Cherokee Primary (Cherokee, Abaco)
- Deep Creek Primary (Eleuthera)
Friends of the Environment (Abaco, The Bahamas), National Audubon Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Bahamas National Trust, Disney Conservation Fund, Amy Roberts Primary School (Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, The Bahamas), Cherokee Primary School (Cherokee Sound, Abaco, The Bahamas), Ocean City Intermediate School (Ocean City, New Jersey, USA), Leeds Avenue Elementary School Environmental Club (Pleasantville, New Jersey, USA), Deep Creek Primary School (Deep Creek, Eleuthera, The Bahamas), South Queens Middle School (Nova Scotia, Canada), Delphi Resort and Fishing Club (Abaco, The Bahamas), White Point Beach Resort (Nova Scotia), Plover Lovers (Canada), Cape Eleuthera Institute (Rock Sound, Eleuthera, The Bahamas), State University of New York -- ESF, College of the Bahamas
- Abaco Piping Plover Watch 2015-2017
- Bahamas Shorebird Conservation Initiative
- Help Audubon Track Pink-Banded Piping Plovers
- Piping Plover
- Comprehensive Conservation Strategy for the Piping Plover in its Coastal Migration & Wintering Range
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Piping Plover website for the Atlantic Coast population
Plover Power Breeding poster - 4.9MB
Plover Power Wintering poster - 343.3KB
Beach nesting bird brochure - 1.0MB
Plover Power Activity Book - 1.3MB
- Research Team Visits Abaco to Conduct Bird Survey - The Abaconian (Press Release) February 2011
- Ocean City students post signs to protect piping plovers in Strathmere
It’s Better in the Bahamas – Part 1 - February 11, 2011
It’s Better in the Bahamas – Part 2 - April 21, 2011
It’s Better in the Bahamas – Part 3 - September 6, 2011
Plovers and Parrots in Paradise - February 5, 2013
Plovers in Paradise, The Bahamas Blog – Trip 1, Day 1 - November 4, 2013
Plovers in Paradise, The Bahamas Blog – Trip 1, Day 2 - November 5, 2013
Plovers in Paradise, The Bahamas Blog – Trip 1, Day 3 - November 6, 2013
Plovers in Paradise, The Bahamas Blog – Trip 1, Day 4 - November 7, 2013
Plovers in Paradise, The Bahamas Blog – Trip 1, Day 5 - November 8, 2013
Plovers in Paradise, The Bahamas Blog – Trip 1, Day 6 - November 9, 2013
Plovers in Paradise, The Bahamas Blog – Trip 1, Day 7- November 10, 2013
Piping Plover Sister School Project - December 5, 2013
Bahamas Piping Plover Project - January 17, 2014
Volunteer Guest Bloggers – Bahamas Piping Plover Project! - February 1, 2014
Bahamas Piping Plover Project - February 9, 2014
Piping Plovers and Researchers Return to the Bahamas - December 10, 2014
In Search of Piping Plovers on Eleuretha - January 12, 2015
Piping Plover Researchers – The Next Generation - January 21, 2015
Bahamas Revisited - February 21, 2016
Plover Power - March 8, 2016
Todd Pover, CWF Senior Wildlife Biologist: Email
Emily Heiser, CWF Wildlife Biologist: Email
Bahamas Piping Plover Project
Report a Sighting
Report a sigting of a banded Piping Plover.
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