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Record year for piping plovers hatching on New Hampshire beaches

  • A piping plover. CourtesyN.H. Fish and Game



Monitor staff
Thursday, August 16, 2018

More piping plover chicks hatched on New Hampshire beaches this summer than at any time since attempts to protect the federally threatened bird began in 1997.

Three pairs of the birds nested on Hampton Beach this summer and five chicks fledged, or live at least 25 days, while on Seabrook Beach six pairs of plovers fledged 12 chicks. Both totals are records, New Hampshire Fish and Game officials said.

The success was partially attributable to the lack of nest abandonment.

“Piping plovers sometimes lose their first nests to high tides, inclement weather or predation, but this year all nine pairs hatched their first nest” said Fish and Game Biologist Brendan Clifford.

As soon as piping plovers return to the beaches in April, Fish and Game biologists fence off the nesting areas with yellow rope and signs alerting people to stay clear. When the chicks are 25 to 30 days old, capable of flying and eluding danger, the fence comes down and the beach is opened for recreational use.

Piping plover chicks are able to walk and feed on their own soon after hatching. The newborn chicks are about the size of a cotton ball and nearly the color of sand, making them vulnerable to being stepped on by people, as well as being eaten by gulls, crows, foxes, cats and dogs.

State officials say alerting beachgoers is key to the nesting success.

The nesting and hatching occurred a little later than normal with the first hatching not observed until mid-June. 

Conservation efforts by many partners, and the cooperation of beachgoers, have helped the piping plover population reach close to 2,000 pairs along the Atlantic Coast since the bird was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1986.

To learn more about New Hampshire’s Piping Plover Project visit: www.wildnh.com/nongame/project-plover.html.