Fun Piping Plover Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Feb 29, 2024 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 18, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Fun Piping Plover Facts For Kids
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.9 Min

Piping Plovers, a bird species which is found in the Great Lakes, Great Plains, on the Atlantic Coast in North America. This bird, belonging to the charadriiformes order, charadriidae family is given the Near Threatened status under the IUCN red list. These birds have a sand-colored upper body with white feathers underneath. They have orange-colored feet and bills. The color of the foot changes to pale yellow during the winter season. Their nest site in the edge of the water, on open sandy beaches. At times, they also prefer areas with scarce vegetation. Males exhibit a series of courtship behavior before the breeding process. It includes dives in the air, throwing stones, puffing up its feather, and creating various nesting sites. The breeding pairs lay 3-4 eggs which are enough to fit in their nest. They are incubated by both parents. During the migration period, these birds head from Eastern Canada to North Carolina, and the population residing in Atlantic Coast migrates to the Caribbean Islands and Mexico.

If you like this article, full of information and description on piping plover, check out our other articles on great green macaw facts and the southern cassowary facts.

Piping Plover Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a piping plover?

Piping plovers are a kind of bird.

What class of animal does a piping plover belong to?

Piping plovers belong to the class Aves.

How many piping plovers are there in the world?

Around 6510 piping plovers are left in the world.

Where does a piping plover live?

The piping plover bird lives on Northeast sandy beaches, wet fields, mudflats, sand flats, alkali lakes or alkali wetlands, and rocky shores. These shorebirds from the plains and great lakes make their nest both in open sand bars and also on beaches with sparse vegetation.

What is a piping plover's habitat?

The piping plover habitat is greatly divided into three main areas which include the Great Lakes region,   the Northern Great Plains, and areas along the Atlantic Coast of the United States and Canada. During the winter season, the breeding ground extends from North Carolina to Florida on the Atlantic coast and from Florida Gulf Coast to Mexico. These breeding grounds are also found in southern Newfoundland and northern South Carolina. This species of birds often migrate to the Bahamas, Cuba and West Indies, Lake Michigan, the Caribbean Islands, and Ecuador.

Who do piping plovers live with?

Piping plovers are often solitary birds similar to solitary sandpipers when it comes to foraging or they do it in small groups.

How long does a piping plover live?

Piping plovers live for around five years of age.

How do they reproduce?

Piping plovers follow an elaborate process for the breeding ritual. From the month of March, males start claiming territories. They dig out several nests along the shorelines. Males also perform a long ceremony for the process of the courtship. The process includes the tossing of stones and multiple dives during flights. The piping plover nest is created by kicking the sand away. Females evaluate several piping plover nests and then decided on one, by decorating it with shells in order to camouflage it. Once the scrape is finalized, the female allows the male to copulate. In the mating ritual, the male puffs its feathers and heads towards the female.

What is their conservation status?

Piping plover (Charadrius melodus) belonging to the Charadriiformes order, Charadriidae family,  is considered Near Threatened and nearly Endangered globally by the IUCN Red List. In the Great Lakes region, it is considered endangered, whereas, in the rest of the breeding range, it is considered threatened. Other birds like giant ibis, california condor, and kakapo have also been listed as endangered. This bird has also been listed as endangered in several states like New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, and several other states. A place called the Park Refuge in Plum Island, Massachusetts is especially dedicated to safeguarding these birds.  Conservation efforts have been made by making coastal regions like North Manitou island in Michigan and Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware has been limited for the access of the pedestrians in order to protect the piping plover chicks over the years.

Piping Plover Fun Facts

What do piping plovers look like?

They have a sand-colored upper body. The underparts of their body are white in color. They also have a black upper tail and a black breast band. Their feet and bill are orange in color and they have a black tip. These shorebirds also have white brows and a black band on their forehead.  However, in the winter season, their physical appearance changes quite a bit. Their feet become pale yellow in color and they lose their black bands. Instead of covering on the tip of their bill, the entire portion starts turning black.  

Piping Plover

How cute are they?

Piping plovers are very cute to look at. Their orange bill and legs with sand-colored body feathers add to their cuteness factor.

How do they communicate?

The piping plover (Charadrius melodus), communicates by making low-frequency soft sounds of nature, peep, peep. When these birds are alarmed,  a piping plover call sounds like soft pee werp sounds.

How big is a piping plover?

The piping plover, endangered species of birds are 5.9-7.5 in (15-19 cm) in length on average. Their wingspan is around 14-16 in (35-41 cm).

How fast can a piping plover move?

Piping plovers fly at a speed of 20.8 mph (33.4 kph) on average.

How much does a piping plover weigh?

Piping plovers weigh around 1.5-2.3 oz (42-65 g) on an average scale.

What are the male and female names of the species?

No specific names have been allotted to the male and female species of these birds.

What would you call a baby piping plover?

A piping plover baby is called a chick.

What do they eat?

These birds are carnivorous shorebirds. Piping plover eats small invertebrates like worms, insects, spiders, or crustaceans which they find below the sand on the ocean coast.

Are they poisonous?

Despite common belief, piping plovers are not actually poisonous in nature.

Would they make a good pet?

Piping plovers can not be kept as pets. Firstly, the piping plover is an endangered species of bird. Hence, it is illegal to keep them as pets. Secondly, these endangered species of birds are also migratory. So, it doesn't make it a feasible option to keep them as pets.

Did you know...

These North American birds have been suffering a significant habitat loss because of climate change. The shallow wetlands in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Canada are having fluctuating water levels. Building nests on the exposed shoreline and above the high tide line is the typical behavior, Piping plovers showcase. This has been compromised because of the rising water level. The other habitats of this bird species, namely, the Atlantic Coast of the United States and Canada, in North America have also been affected by climate change. As a result, these bird species tend to change their habitats and migrate towards the inland areas but that has also been posing as a problem because of the increase in human activity.

Piping plovers help in controlling the crustacean and insect population on beaches. However, they have a more significant role in determining the health of an ecosystem. Scientists consider piping plovers as an indicator species so that they can understand the ecosystem condition of a specific area.

The nest site of these North American birds is on open beaches, the edge of the ocean, which is exposed to direct heat. As the temperature of the sand increases, the nesting behavior has also changed to cope up with climate change. They show various kinds of thermal regulation techniques to deal with themselves and the piping plover eggs. The nest attendance has significantly decreased and the shading pattern has increased over the recent years.

Piping plover migration

Piping plover migrates to the North to their breeding ground around late February. These birds migrate to the south during the fall. The inland population of these birds migrates to the Atlantic Ocean or in the Gulf of Mexico. The population residing along the Atlantic Coast, North America migrates to the South of Mexico, the Caribbean Islands, and Central America. The rise in the water level of the ocean decreases the nesting areas of the bird.

Piping plover vs. sandpiper

The piping plover has orange or pale yellow-colored legs whereas the sandpiper has black legs. The sandpiper also has black bills, unlike the piping plover.  Adult breeding sandpipers also have rust-colored feathers on their upper body whereas the piping plover has a sand-colored upper body.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these ostrich facts and crowned eagle facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable piping plover coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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