Piping Plover Particulars


  • Piping plovers are considered threatened both federally and in Massachusetts. Fewer than 10,000 piping plovers remain.

  • Of the roughly 330 breeding pairs in Massachusetts, 50 have been known to reside at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, but only 33 have been spotted during the 2023 season!

  • Piping plovers are present on the beach from April through mid-July or August, and the beach re-opens in stages until the last of the fledglings leave.

  • Kites resemble birds of prey to a plover on the beach. Other beach activities (walking, dogs, vehicles, etc.) can disturb mating and nesting activities, and humans can unknowingly step on camouflaged nesting sites.


  • Plovers forage for worms and insects at the shoreline and in the wrack (the bits of shells and seaweed at the water line) they move very quickly and are very cute!

  • Nests are lined with tiny shells and rocks, which help to camouflage the eggs. They are still at risk of attack by foxes, gulls, and crows.

  • Females normally lay four eggs per clutch, and both parents share incubation duties.

  • The eggs hatch within 26-28 days.

  • The young are precocial, leaving the nest and able to feed themselves within hours of hatching, though they are under their parent’s watchful eye until they fledge at approximately 30 days. The beach re-opens when the plovers have flown South.

  • When intruders are spotted, piping plovers will call wildly and pretend to have a broken wing to distract predators from their nest or young, returning when it’s safe.

  • Piping plovers·will spend their winter along the southern coast of the US. Some even have winter homes in the Bahamas!


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