The Piping Plover is a small migratory shore bird that winters on the Texas Gulf Coast. The piping plover has three distinct populations that migrate from the Northern Great Plains, the Atlantic Coast and the Great Lakes. The Great Plains and Atlantic Coast plovers were listed as threatened under the ESA, while the Great Lakes group was listed as Endangered in 1986. The primary threats to this species are from potential habitat loss and degradation associated with the modification of nesting beach habitat for land development.
USFWS Endangered Species Act Status:
Threatened (Endangered population on the Great Lakes)
TPWD Species Conservation Status:
Aransas, Calhoun, and Refugio counties
The Piping Plover is a small bird with a white chest and belly, pale brown back, with black bands around the base of the neck, and across the forehead. Both sexes have similar coloring (USFWS).
Piping Plovers generally live less than five years and reach sexual maturity at one year of age. Piping Plovers arrive at their breeding and nesting grounds in the spring. The female lays two to five eggs and that are incubated by both parents for 25 days. The female helps to care for the young for 14 to 20 days before migrating south. The male continues to assist the juveniles until they are ready to fly at 21 to 35 days old and migrate to the winter grounds on the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coast (Bernazzani and Regosin 2016).
Habitat and Diet:
Piping Plover diet primarily consists of insects, worms, arachnids, crustaceans, and mollusks. The birds primarily live on sandy beaches, or tidal flats along the coast, and gravel or sand bars near rivers and lakes shores.
Bernazzani, P. and Regosin, J. (2016). Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (DFW) Habitat Conservation Plan for Piping Plover. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife and ICF International.
United States Fish and Wildlife Service. (2019). Piping Plover. ECOS Environmental Conservation Online System. https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp/species/6039