International

PBS Newshour Zooms in on Piping Plover Efforts

Audubon scientists are banding Piping Plovers as they winter in the Bahamas to learn more about this tiny endangered bird.

It was only three years ago that researchers solved the mystery of where endangered Piping Plovers spend their winters, but already Audubon researchers are working, alongside Bahamas National Trust, to preserve the islands in the Bahamas these birds call home this time of year.

The small gray and white shorebird made it onto the endangered species list in 1986, when the population, once in the tens of thousands, dropped below 2,000 individuals. Today, the population has recovered to 8,000 birds, but the plover still faces threats, thanks to climate change, as rising seas might take over some of critical breeding grounds. Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report lists the Piping Plover as climate-endangered, meaning it might lose more than 50 percent of its current range by 2050, if global warming continues at its current pace. 

So what could help these vulnerable shorebirds? Protecting their winter habitat in Bahamas’ Joulter Cays is high on the list. A team of researchers led by Audubon and members of the International Alliances Program spent several weeks in the Bahamas this winter trying to learn more about the birds and develop ways to protect the critical habitat. They even managed to band 27 birds, with Bahamas-pink tags. 

Watch the video from PBS Newshour detailing the work: 

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