Great Lakes Piping Plovers

Population Status

Historically, Piping Plovers nested throughout the Great Lakes, with an estimated population 500-800 pairs. By the mid-1980's the Great Lakes population had declined to 11-14 pairs, all within the state of Michigan. In 2017, the population was estimated at approximately 76 nesting pairs but it dropped to 67 in 2018. Although the breeding population is expanding, the Great Lakes Piping Plover is still extremely vulnerable to extirpation from predation, demographic and environmental stochasticity, and continued beach development.

In recent years the Great Lakes Piping Plover population has also begun to expand geographically to the range they once covered. The exciting news is that 2018 is the first year in many decades that Piping Plovers have nested on all five of the Great Lakes.

Historic Great Lakes Piping Plover Range

2015 Great Lakes Piping Plover Range

Late 1980s Great Lakes Piping Plover Range

2019 Great Lakes Piping Plover Range

It is a special opportunity to be able observe Piping Plovers since there are only about 70 nesting pairs in the entire Great Lakes population and about 4000 pairs worldwide. 

©​​​ GLPIPL  2017