A small, greyish-brown shorebird, the piping plover likes to nest on sandy beaches. Unfortunately, people like to use beaches, too, which may be why the species is endangered. All-terrain vehicles, pets, humans, and cattle, frighten the chicks and accidentally crush the well-camouflaged eggs. The birds breed from May to August across the southern Prairies and the Atlantic coast. The piping plover has been extirpated from the Great Lakes Region of Canada.
In the Atlantic provinces, the Piping Plover Guardian Program relies on about 120 volunteers to patrol 40 nesting beaches during critical breeding periods. These "guardians" - wearing bright red - also post notices and talk to the public about this shorebird's predicament.
• If you live in the Maritimes and want to get involved in or learn more about recovery efforts for this species, you can do so via Nature Nova Scotia.
• Manitoba has a similar guardian program and has set aside several piping plover nesting beaches as special conservation areas. You can help this bird wherever it lives by learning about it, including the tricky task of identifying the species. If you see a piping plover, contact your provincial wildlife department. Your sightings will help researchers keep track of the species. To learn more about recovery efforts for the piping plover in Manitoba, check out the Manitoba Piping Plover Guardian Program.