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Piping Plover Fact Sheet

  • Latin Name

    Charadrius melodus
  • Class

    Birds
  • Order

    Charadriiformes
  • Range

    East Coast, Great Lakes Region and Midwest of the United States and Canada

  • Habitat

    Sandy beaches and shallow wetlands

  • Niche

    The piping plover feeds primarily on insects and small aquatic invertebrates. The species hunts by sight, chasing down prey on the sand and grasping it with its beak.

  • Life History

    Male piping plovers attract mates through elaborate courtship ceremonies, including stone tossing and courtship flights featuring repeated dives. The species nests on the open beach, laying four eggs in shallow scrapes in the sand. The eggs' speckled coating helps them blend into the sand, making them difficult to see. Such open nesting leaves the bird's eggs vulnerable to beach construction as well as visiting dogs and people.

  • Special Adaptations

    • Piping plovers with offspring will perform an elaborate "broken wing" display when the nest is threatened to draw danger away from the nest.
    • The piping plover's coloring helps it blend in to its surroundings.

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2001 North Clark Street • Chicago, IL 60614 • 312-742-2000

2001 North Clark Street • Chicago, IL 60614 Get Map/Directions Call 312-742-2000

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