Unlike many other bird species, Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) chicks are never fed by their parents – from a few hours after hatching, chicks are moving around their natal beach and foraging for themselves. While it is important that adults have appropriate space to nest, roost, and forage, Piping Plover chicks, who are unable to fly for the first 4 to 5 weeks of life, are even more vulnerable to disturbance, exposure to the elements, predators, human impacts, and inadequate forage. Having access to adequate feeding areas is very important for chicks (Elliott-Smith and Haig 2004). According to Cairns (1982), Piping Plover chicks spend a majority of their time feeding and typically triple their weight in the first two weeks after hatching. Those that have not reached 60% of that weight gain by day 12 are unlikely to survive. Therefore, understanding what habitat broods use at a site and what impacts the space that a brood uses will help wildlife managers better protect chicks and increase productivity.
Project Report: Nesting Site Characteristics Affecting Piping Plover Brood Range