Already a subscriber? Sign in Don't have a subscription? Subscribe Now
Piping Plover
Charadrius melodus
– Family
Authors: Haig, Susan M.
Revisors: Elliott-Smith, Elise, and Susan M. Haig

Welcome to the Birds of North America Online!

Welcome to BNA Online, the leading source of life history information for North American breeding birds. This free, courtesy preview is just the first of 14 articles that provide detailed life history information including Distribution, Migration, Habitat, Food Habits, Sounds, Behavior and Breeding. Written by acknowledged experts on each species, there is also a comprehensive bibliography of published research on the species.

A subscription is needed to access the remaining articles for this and any other species. Subscription rates start as low as $5 USD for 30 days of complete access to the resource. To subscribe, please visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology E-Store.

If you are already a current subscriber, you will need to sign in with your login information to access BNA normally.

Subscriptions are available for as little as $5 for 30 days of full access! If you would like to subscribe to BNA Online, just visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology E-Store.


Adult male Piping Plover, breeding plumage; New Jersey, June
Adult female Piping Plover, breeding plumage; Massachusetts, June
Figure 1. Breeding Range Wintering Range

The Piping Plover is a threatened and endangered shorebird that inhabits wide, open beaches, alkali flats, and sandflats of North America. It breeds primarily along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to eastern Canada and the French Islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, inland along rivers and wetlands of the northern Great Plains from Nebraska to the southern Prairie Provinces, and along portions of the western Great Lakes in the U.S. and western Ontario. In winter, most individuals are found on coastal beaches, sandflats, and mudflats from the Carolinas to Yucatan; some scatter through the Bahamas and West Indies.

This plover is divided into two subspecies based on geographic distribution, presence or absence of complete neck bands, and mitochondrial DNA (SMH). Numerous studies have been conducted across the species’ range, and conservation efforts are well organized in breeding areas across North America. Several recent efforts have also focused on winter areas. Its coexistence with human use of beaches is increasingly dependent on management: fencing nests, restricting off-road vehicle access, and predator control. Fewer than 3,000 breeding pairs of Piping Plovers were detected in the U.S. and Canada in 2001 (see Table 1).