Conserve Wildlife Blog

Beach Restoration Project Shows Promise for Piping Plovers at Barnegat Light

July 4th, 2020

Piping plover chick feeding at the restoration-created pond.  Photo courtesy of Northside Jim.

Last winter the Conserve Wildlife Foundation, in partnership with Rutgers University, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, and New Jersey Fish & Wildlife’s Endangered and Non-Game Species Program, completed the final stages of a beach restoration project in Barnegat Light State Park.

The project, which broke ground the winter before last, aimed to create more ideal habitat for the endangered piping plover away from human disturbance at Barnegat Light’s more recreationally busy beaches. This was accomplished by removing vegetation, grading dunes to be more suitable for nesting, and creating alternative feeding sites (i.e. ephemeral pools).

Now, with the beach nesting bird season at its peak and the final stages of the project complete, we can start to assess the effectiveness of the work that has been done.

Ephemeral pools created as part of Barnegat Light Restoration Project. Photo by Todd Pover.

“Typically, we would look at increases in nesting pairs and chick success as our metrics,” said senior wildlife biologist and beach nesting bird project head, Todd Pover, in a recent post to CWF’s Facebook page, “and although there have been modest increases in that regard so far, what is really promising is how the plovers are using the site.”

Pover continued, “Both the adults and the recently hatched chicks are regularly using the foraging ponds we created, in fact to date, the chicks have exclusively used the ponds to feed. They haven’t had to leave the fenced protected area to feed at the inlet pools or oceanfront, where they would face more human disturbance.”

Being able to feed without interruption is a major benefit for young plovers, allowing them to grow faster and have a generally higher rate of survival. 

Pover concluded the post saying, “We still have to wait a couple of weeks to see how the chicks ultimately fare, but for now we are excited about what we are seeing.”

You can learn more Piping Plovers and CWF’s Beach Nesting Bird Project here.

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