Day 11: Eleven Pipers Piping
Small, unassuming, but not to be underestimated, the Piping Plover inhabits shores and sandbars of water bodies in the Prairies and the Atlantic coast of North America. These little shorebirds nest in the sand, camouflaging the eggs with rocks and pieces of shell. Prior to breeding, males of this species scrape out depressions in the sand and perform courtship displays to attract a female. If the female approves of a scrape, she will mate with the male and build her nest in the scrape. Both sexes incubate the eggs and defend the nest against predators, sometimes aggressively.
Because their sandy habitats are attractive for human recreation and development, habitat loss and disturbance have been major causes of population declines in this endangered species.
The CWHC, Atlantic Region has been collaborating with Prince Edward Island National Park since 1993 to determine the various causes of hatching failure in Piping Plover eggs. Most often hatching failure is caused by disruption of incubation due to high tides, storms and/or predators. However, other causes of hatching failure have been identified, including infertility, abnormal positioning of the embryo and congenital defects.
Title photo: Mdf via Wikimedia Commons