Record Breaking Number of Chicks Fledged for Great Lakes Piping Plover.
The 2016 Great Lakes Piping Plover season started with the same two males arriving at the two exact same places in Michigan and on the same exact April day as in 2015. These males, BO:X,g at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Of,YG:X,G at Manistee, are two of the oldest plovers in the population and have been nesting at these sites for many years. This highlights the high site fidelity that is displayed by Piping Plovers; where individual birds are not only tied into a location but even follow similar patterns year after year. Soon, after other plovers began to arrive in the Great Lakes region and by the beginning of May the first nests were being laid. Soon after the start of the season, one of the biggest developments became apparent, with many more birds being seen in Ontario than in previous breeding seasons with ultimately a record 15 pairs being spotted breeding in the province. These plovers bred at three new Ontario sites in 2016 with 2 pairs nesting at Darlington Provincial Park and a single pair nesting at both Limestone Islands Provincial Park and at Presquille Provincial Park. Another major trend was the increase in Piping Plovers nesting on North Manitou Island. This island, part of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore has long been an important piping plover nesting location for many years but in 2016 North Manitou took on an even bigger role, with ultimately 20 pairs nesting on the island. Additional 2016 highlights were plover pairs nesting at habitat restoration sites at both Wilderness State Park in Michigan and in the Cat Island Chain in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Wilderness State Park pair was especially exciting as this habitat restoration project was designed specifically to help return Piping Plovers to this former stronghold. Most of the nests hatched in June and early July and by mid-August most of the plover chicks had fledged and had begun their long trip back to wintering grounds along the coasts of the southern United States and parts of the Caribbean. Thanks to the hard work of the dozens of biologists, plover monitors and volunteers that make up the Great Lakes Piping Plover recovery effort, a new program record of 133 chicks were fledged in the wild in 2016, beating the old record of 128 fledged in 2015 and continuing to put the Great Lakes piping plover on the path to recovery.