DNREC reports nine pairs of piping plovers

LEWES ­— With summer just around the corner, beachnesting birds are in full breeding mode, with piping plover and American oystercatcher nests increasing their Delaware numbers and least terns making nest scrapes, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announced Wednesday.

On the Point at Cape Henlopen, five pairs of piping plovers are incubating nests, with four more nests on Fowler Beach at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Another piping plover pair also is setting up a territory at Gordons Pond in Cape Henlopen State Park.

“With nine known piping plover nests at the same time, we are close to tying – or maybe even breaking – the record of 10 pairs nesting in a single year,” said Wildlife Research Assistant Kevin Bronson, Division of Fish & Wildlife.

In addition, two American oystercatcher nests have been found on Fowler Beach, along with three oystercatcher nests on Middle Island in the Inland Bays.

The piping plover was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1986, and the Division of Fish & Wildlife is responsible for its protection in Delaware. Under an agreement and species management plan with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, DNREC closes piping plover nesting areas to the public at Cape Henlopen State Park annually to protect these small shorebirds during their nesting season from March into September. The closure, which includes both feeding habitat and nesting areas at the Point and around Gordon’s Pond, has been successful, increasing the number of nesting piping plovers from a low of two pairs to a high of 10 pairs.

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