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Great Lakes Piping Plovers
Why Report Banded Piping Plovers
(and other birds)

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Citizen and agency reports of both breeding and non-breeding Piping Plovers are crucial to research about Great Lakes Piping Plovers’ life histories and habitat needs. We’ve learned much since the banding program began in 1993, but there is still much to learn.  A critical need currently exists for more information to target our resources where they can best help increase the population of Great Lakes Piping Plovers. Your observation is valuable!

Band Research Results
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Some of the many things we’ve learned from band observation reports:

  • There is very little interbreeding between the three populations of Piping Plovers although they intermix during the non-breeding season. 

  • Piping Plovers have very high site fidelity, both on the breeding and wintering grounds.

  • Approximately 37% of chicks that fledge survive their first year.

  • If an individual survives the first trip to the wintering grounds and back, its average life expectancy is 5 Years

  • The oldest Great lakes Piping Plover on record is currently 15.

  • Plovers don’t necessarily return to their hatch site for breeding, but many do.

  • Piping Plovers are more tied to a territory than to a particular mate. Pairs don’t stay together year-round, but if they’re successful at raising chicks they will often return to the same site and may pair up with the same mate year after year.

  • The current migration speed record is a female who flew from northern Michigan to the Miami, FL, area in less than 45.5 hours. She had a 30 mph tail wind at least part of the way.

  • There is ongoing research into sex ratios at hatching and at fledging

  • The more years a female nests at a given site, the better she is at raising offspring—in other words, the more familiar she is with the location, the more successful she will be.

  • Most Great Lakes Piping Plovers winter in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Some winter in North Carolina and a few are scattered across the Gulf Coast to Texas. We’ve had very few Great Lakes Piping Plovers reported in the Bahamas. In 2015-16 we had our first reports of Great Lakes Piping Plovers in Mexico (Cancun) and in Cuba.

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