The Piping Plover Struggles at the Jersey Shore
Christina Davis, an environmental specialist with the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, says there is concern about the numbers of a little shore bird, the piping plover.
If you go to the shore, you could very easily miss it. And from the bird's perspective, that's just fine with them.
She says the plover tries to avoid being noticed.
"It is a very small, pale, sandy-colored bird. Its primary defense mechanism is camouflage, so it likes to blend into its surroundings."
Davis says last year, the plover's numbers were good, but they have not seen a subsequent increase this year, unusual for New Jersey.
Davis says while Superstorm Sandy was a disaster for people in New Jersey, it was a boon for the plover.
"In the natural system, hurricanes can actually be a really good thing, and that is what we saw from Hurricane Sandy — that it hit during a time of year when the birds were not nesting, so it only impacted their habitat. It did not impact their actual eggs or chicks and it created some really spectacular habitats in places that were excellent for it to occur in."
But right now in New Jersey their numbers have not increased year over year.
"For example, right now in Cape May County, we have very few pairs. This year we only tallied four piping plover pairs in all of Cape May County. If you go back 15 years ago, we were upwards of 30 to 35 pairs. So that has been a really steep descent that we have seen. And we do not like to have all of our birds, or eggs in one basket; we like to have an even distribution throughout the state."
Davis says people can help the piping plover by avoiding nesting areas marked on beaches and walking their dogs only on designated shore areas and respect the little bird's boundaries.