It was another big year for Maine's fragile Piping Plover population.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife reports great news when it comes to the state's population of an endangered shorebird species. Proactive measures were put into place to protect Piping Plovers back in 1986, when the little beach birds were listed under Maine’s Endangered Species Act.
According to MDIFW, 40 years ago there were only seven nesting pairs of Piping Plovers in Maine. According to data collected this year, their population has boomed to 140 nesting pairs, 221 fledglings, and 28 chicks that are currently being monitored. This is the fifth consecutive year of record breaking population numbers.
Maine's Piping Plover Population:
- 2018: 68 nesting pairs
- 2019: 89 nesting pairs - 175 fledglings
- 2020: 98 nesting pairs - 199 fledglings
- 2021: 125 nesting pairs - 213 fledglings
- 2022: 140 nesting pairs - 221 fledglings
The small shorebirds are found on 20-25 public and private beaches here in Maine. It's estimated that there's 2,000 nesting pairs of Piping Plovers along the Atlantic coast. Their habitat, sandy areas near water, has been heavily developed and heavily used by beachgoers over the years, which has been a component of their population decline. Additionally, intense hurricanes are repeatedly impacting their wintering areas.
MDIFW says the intense weather in coastal southern states, Bahamas, and Caribbean, puts extra emphasis on protecting where they successfully fledge their young. Piping Plovers that are nesting in New England states are having better success rates, compared to those that nest in the Canadian and mid-Atlantic areas.