2014-06-05 / Nature

New Baby Plovers Arrive

By Jack Kelly


Piping Plover chick and mother at Sachuest Beach. Piping Plover chick and mother at Sachuest Beach. A pair of endangered Piping Plovers nesting at Middletown’s Sachuest Beach have recently had three chicks hatch.

According to Ryan Kleinert, U. S. Fish and Wildlife piping plover coordinator, “The chicks are very active and need to get to the water’s edge to forage for food with their parents. These young birds need to feed constantly in order to reach fledgling status. If the chicks are kept from feeding by human interference or other causes, they will die from starvation or dehydration.”

As with most shorebirds, the tiny, down-covered chicks hatch precocial, capable of moving about and following the adults to the tide line. This is a dangerous time for the young birds, as they are only about the size of a cotton ball and can be easily stepped on by beachgoers or free-roaming dogs. They also face the threat of being gobbled up by natural predators including crows and gulls.


Jack Kelly, a native Newporter, is a wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experiences with others. Jack Kelly, a native Newporter, is a wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experiences with others. Shirley Lally, a volunteer and piping plover monitor, commented, “Monitors assist in educating the public and limiting as many disturbances to the plovers’ habitat as possible. We ask anyone sighting an adult Piping Plover on the beach to please give it a wide berth because of possible chicks in the area.”

Both Kleinert and Lally commended the work of Sachuest Beach and Third Beach Manager Phil Cohen and his staff for their continued support in protecting the nests and habitats of the plovers. “The Town of Middletown and the beach staff, in particular, have been excellent partners in conservation endeavors. Middletown employees Will Cronin, Mike Stahl, and Tom O’Loughlin have been great to work with on plover issues. With the possibility of other nests in the region, we are very grateful for their assistance,” Kleinert said.

Lally raised other safety issues. “We request that members of the general public, bird watchers, and photographers refrain from getting too close to the roped-off habitat range because of the stress it causes to the birds. The plovers will not feed if a threat to the young is perceived. We experienced incidents last year where people nearly loved the chicks to death.”

For more information or to volunteer as a piping plover monitor, contact Kleinert at ryan_ kleinert@ fws.gov or 401-364-9124 x 16.

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