Piping Plover
Charadrius melodus
Family Charadriidae

The piping plover is a small, pale, timid plover which starts and stops frequently as it scurries across the sand.

Identifying Traits (both sexes):

  • Back very pale brown; excellent camouflage in dry sand
  • Underside white
  • Wings lined with black bars at edges
  • Short, thin bill and slender legs both yellow in summer, darker in winter
  • Broken black “collar” at neck distinctive
  • Size: 15 cm (6”)
  • Weight: 55 g (2.0 oz)

Similar Species: Killdeer is larger, with a darker brown back and two black “collars.”

Voice: True to its name, the piping plover’s call sounds like a pair of descending notes blown on a very small flute: peep-oh, peep-oh.

Habitat: Piping plovers use their camouflage to best advantage on dry, sandy beaches and occasionally tidal flats.

Interesting Facts: Due to habitat destruction, the piping plover has declined sharply in number in recent years.  It is defined as a federally threatened species, and its nesting sites on certain beaches are closed to the public.



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