The piping plover is a tiny bird. They’re endangered. Last year there were just 58 breeding pairs in the Great Lakes region. One third of the population nests in the Sleeping Bear Dunes area.
“The chicks, they look like they’re little cotton balls running up and down the beach. They’ve got these gangly legs, and ... a very endearing bird.”
Sue Jennings is the wildlife program manager at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. She says because of the federal sequester, they’ve had to cut back on their seasonal staff. They set up fences to keep people and predators away from the plovers when they’re nesting.
“Unfortunately it’s coming down to the possibility of having those nests unattended for a period of time. We’ve never had 24-hour/7-day coverage, but we’d like to at least touch base with that nest throughout the week, daily, to ensure parents are incubating.”
So, Jennings says they’re looking for volunteers to help guard the nests, especially if you live nearby.
If you're interested, she says you can call the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore office at (231) 326-5134.