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Marshbirds and Shorebirds of North Dakota

Piping Plover

PIPING PLOVER Charadrius melodus L7" (18cm)

The piping plover is a small shorebird that inhabits sandbars of rivers and lakes and exposed shorelines composed of gravel, rock, or pebbly mud on alkali wetlands. Its plumage is cryptically camouflaged, meaning the feathers are patterned to blend with the plover's sandy habitat. The piping plover has a distinctive feeding habit. It runs a short distance, stops and stares at the sand with its head tilted to one side, picks up its prey, and begins to run again. It feeds on sandflies, beetles, worms, and various aquatic insects. The piping plover is territorial which means it will defend its nesting area from other plovers. The nest consists of a small scrape in the sand and is often lined with small pebbles. The female lays 4 eggs that blend perfectly with the surrounding pebbles and sand. Both sexes share the incubation duties which last 25 to 31 days. Piping plover chicks are able to walk and search for food only a few hours after hatching. The piping plover is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

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