The number of plover chicks to reach flight age or “fledge” in 2019 was up from 2018, and the productivity rate was higher than the goal.
Piping plovers are small shorebirds that nest only on sandy beaches with sparse vegetation. Their habitat is a narrow strip squeezed between a rising Sound and higher ground. The piping plover population is, according to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, "an indicator of the health of the fragile beach ecosystem." (Atlantic Coast Piping Plover Revised Recovery Plan)
Earth Day Retrospective: In 1984, only 30 nesting piping plovers were observed in Connecticut. In 2019, 57 pairs successfully raised 98 young plovers on Connecticut beaches. Scientists estimate that each pair must successfully raise an average of 1.20 young per year to maintain a stable population and an average of 1.50 young per year to succesfsfully increase the population of piping plovers to sustainable levels. In 2019, Connecticut plovers raised an average of 1.72 chicks per nest. Since protection and monitoring efforts began in 1984, nesting success has improved, resulting in more returning adults in subsequent years. However, the modest size of the population requires that the species continue in threatened status at the state and national level.
Goal: The goal for piping plover was derived from the Piping Plover Atlantic Coast Population Revised Recovery Plan (1996). That Plan's goal calls for 2,000 pairs along the east coast with 625 pairs throughout New England, and a five-year average productivity of 1.5 fledged chicks per pair.