Piping plover in exhibit

Piping Plover

Scientific Name

Charadrius melodus






East Coast, Great Lake, and Midwest regions of the United States and Canada


Sandy beaches and shallow wetlands

Estimated Wild Population

Piping plover in exhibit
IUCN Conservation Status: Lower Risk - Near Threatened IUCN Conservation Status: Lower Risk - Near Threatened

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Physical Description

Piping plovers are a small shorebird that can reach up to seven inches in length. During breeding season, males and females have a white underside, a brown back and wings, and thick black bands around their neck. During non-breeding season, their black bands become less pronounced. These birds feed primarily on insects and small aquatic invertebrates. They nest on the open beach and will perform an elaborate "broken wing" display to draw predators away from their nest.

Interesting Fact 1

Piping plovers hunt by sight and chase prey across the sand.

Interesting Fact 2

Males attract mates through elaborate courtship ceremonies that include tossing stones and diving through the air.

Interesting Fact 3

They leave their eggs in shallow scrapes in the sand, which are vulnerable to beach construction, as well as visiting dogs and people.

Animal Care staff working with seal

Commitment to Care

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Asian small-clawed otter in exhibit

Wish List

The Wish List is full of one-of-a-kind items for the zoo’s animals, including nutritious snacks and enrichment items to keep them active and healthy.  

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