The Whisker Chronicles

Whiskers are also known as vibrissa, from the latin vibrare "to vibrate". Vibrissa are the specialized hairs on mammals and the bristlelike feathers near the mouths of many birds. Their resonant design is symbolic of the energies, good and bad, that are reverberating throughout the natural world. Every living thing is connected and, by birthright, deserves to exist.

Celebrating Forty Years of the Endangered Species Act: Piping Plover

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Scientific Name:   (Charadrius melodus)

Year Listed on the Endangered Species List:
  1985

Endangered Species Listing Status:  

Endangered in the Great Lakes watershed.
Threatened everywhere else.

Conservation Efforts and Partners: 

In one example, in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Francie Cuthbert of the University of Minnesota began to study the Great Lakes Piping Plover Population in the 1980s. With the help of graduate students, research fellows and field assistants (many of them zoo volunteers), work began for its recovery.  There are many partner agencies who provide assistance with research, nest monitoring and egg incubation.  Captive rearing and release methods have increased the number of breeding pairs from a low of 17 in 1981 to 63 by 2007.  The first year that orphaned piping plover chicks and abandoned eggs were captive reared and later successfully released as fledglings was 1998.

Where Piping Plovers Live:  

Along the Atlantic Coast in Canada, some of the British Caribbean Islands, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New England, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina in coastal dunes, savannas and grasslands.

Range map obtained at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Range map obtained at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

What Piping Plovers Eat:  

Insects, small crustaceans, mollusks, marine worms, fly larvae, and beetles.

How Long Piping Plovers Live:  Up to 14 years.

Photos courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Photos courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


How We Can All Help Piping Plovers:

Avoid disturbing nests, which can cause the parents to abandon them. Nests and eggs are often accidentally crushed by people and vehicles using the beaches so it is important to adhere to designated pathways.  Dogs should be leashed and cats not allowed outdoors as they will harass and kill birds.  Volunteer to help protect nests and eggs during breeding season by contacting your local Nature Center or Wildlife Sanctuary.

Please watch the following brief video to learn more about the collaborative efforts of many organizations in saving the piping plover.

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