ShareThis Page
Missing bird for 60 years finally breeds again in Pennsylvania |

Missing bird for 60 years finally breeds again in Pennsylvania

Mary Ann Thomas
| Sunday, July 30, 2017 8:33 p.m
National Park Service
Piping plover chick

The piping plover, a federally endangered bird missing from Pennsylvania for 60 years is finally breeding at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Named after its high-pitched piping call, the piping plover is a robin-sized shorebird that nests on beaches and is colored to blend in with sand and sticks.

Unfortunately, the birds’ breeding habitat, open beaches, is also preferred by people.

Development and human traffic on beaches coupled with predation has caused steep declines in the plover population through the 1940s and 1950s.

The Game Commission and the Audubon Society reported two piping plover chicks, which were banded, from one of two nests at the park’s Gull Point.

Strong waves overtook the second nest, however, the Game Commission and Audubon biologists rescued the eggs, which were transferred first to the Detroit Zoo and then to the University of Michigan Biological Station piping plover captive-rearing facility. Two chicks hatched and will be released on Lake Michigan in early August.

“This is a testament to dedication and teamwork, not only in Pennsylvania but throughout the species’ range,” said Dan Brauning, Game Commission Wildlife Diversity Program Chief. “Their return wasn’t by chance, or an accident.”

According to the Audubon Society, bringing the plovers back to the peninsula has taken a lot of work. Audubon provided the “eyes in the field” since 2009, with Mary Birdsong and other monitors providing daily updates on bird sightings and activity to all the agencies involved.

Audubon said it monitors noted, for instance, a tripling of the shorebird population at Gull Point after groups removed invasive plants and other vegetation taking over the sandy beach habitat that plovers and other shorebirds need.

At one time, Pennsylvania likely hosted up to 15 pairs at Presque Isle State Park – the only suitable breeding habitat in the state.

Shortly after a territorial male was observed at Gull Point in 2005, the Game Commission, working with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, developed a Presque Isle Piping Plover and Common Tern Partnership aiming to bring back to Pennsylvania both beleaguered species.

Other partners include U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Audubon Pennsylvania and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691, or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, or via Twitter .

Categories: Pennsylvania
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.