Piping plover chicks popping out all over at Cape Henlopen

Piping plover chicks popping out all over at Cape Henlopen


fledgling p[lover, delaware, sussex county, piping plover, endangered bird, federally protected
Piping Plover with chick … Cal Vornberger
LEWES (June 4, 2015) – As of June 1, no fewer than nine piping plover chicks were being shepherded around the Point at Cape Henlopen by their parents, Division of Fish & Wildlife beach-nesting monitors reported – with two piping plover nests on the Point still being incubated in hopes of more chicks to come in Delaware for the federally-threatened species.

Meanwhile, the most recent hatchlings were only two days old and had already made their way about 500 feet from their nest site at beck and call of the adults and out into the tall dunes between the nest and the tidal flats on the Point’s bay side.

“We’ve had indication that another pair of plovers may have taken up residence on the Point, so we’ll be watching closely to see if there’s a sixth nest on the way,” said Wildlife Biologist Matthew Bailey, Division of Fish & Wildlife.

Meanwhile, at Gordons Pond, one pair of piping plovers is incubating a nest which is expected to hatch by mid-June, Bailey added.

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Monitors are still continuing to watch two American oystercatcher nests at the Point with adults incubating. No oystercatchers are displaying nesting behavior at Gordons Pond.

At Delaware Seashore State Park, the American oystercatcher nest hatched May 29. So far only one egg has hatched and the other two eggs appear to have been abandoned. Both adults were seen with the chick on Sunday about 500 feet south of the nest site.

“Although having two eggs not hatch is disappointing, the chick that did hatch is the only known oystercatcher chick in Delaware at this time, so we are pulling for it,” Bailey said.

For more information on beach-nesting birds and monitoring efforts, please contact Matthew Bailey at 302-382-4151 or emailmatthew.bailey@state.de.us.


About the piping plover

The piping plover was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1986, and the Division of Fish and Wildlife is responsible for its protection in Delaware. Under a binding agreement and subsequent species management plan that DNREC made in 1990 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the federal agency with oversight of this ESA-protected species, piping plover nesting areas at Cape Henlopen State Park are closed annually to the public to protect the shorebirds from disturbance during their nesting season which usually runs from March into September. This includes the Point and smaller areas around Gordon’s Pond. The closure has been successful, increasing the number of piping plover nesting pairs from a low of two pairs to a high of nine pairs, and must include feeding habitat as well as nesting areas. Piping plovers feed on small invertebrates that inhabit the intertidal zone near their nesting territories. Chicks are not fed by their parents, but rather are led to the shoreline to forage while the adults keep watch for potential threats. Allowing pedestrian traffic in the intertidal zone adjoining nesting areas would disturb the vital link between nesting and foraging habitat and risk adverse stress or mortality to the chicks.


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