NEW YORK - The National Audubon Society invites researchers, birders and beachgoers across the Atlantic Coast to help track the movements and health of Piping Plovers by searching for and submitting observations of Piping Plovers with pink flags to BahamasPIPL@audubon.org. Tracking pink banded Piping Plovers during their East Coast stopovers is critical to better understanding and recovering populations of these small endangered shorebirds.

This past January, Audubon teamed up with the Bahamas National Trust and Virginia Tech Shorebird Program, assisted by other partners, to band Piping Plovers in the Bahamas with pink flags for the first time—the official color of the Bahamas and Caribbean. Within a few short months, these same exact banded birds, coming north from a winter in the Bahamas, have already been spotted in Conn., Ga., Mass., N.C., N.J., N.Y., S.C. and Va.

Piping Plovers are arriving along Atlantic Coast beaches as part of their annual spring migration. The small gray and white shorebirds may fly for thousands of miles between breeding and wintering areas. Three years ago, Audubon researchers working alongside several partners solved the mystery of where many threatened Piping Plovers from the Atlantic Coast breeding population spend their winters.  Since then, Audubon has worked closely with the Bahamas National Trust to map the key wintering sites for shorebirds and to preserve the places in the Bahamas where these birds call home.

Piping Plovers made it onto the endangered species list in 1986, when the population dropped to less than 2,000 individuals. Today, the population has recovered to roughly 8,000, but the plovers still face threats including loss of habitat, chronic disturbance and climate change as discovered in Audubon’s groundbreaking Birds and Climate Change Report.  As human impact increases and rising seas might take over some of critical breeding grounds, the birds may have nowhere left to go.

Audubon is asking for your help finding these pink banded plovers during migration and the breeding season. Anyone can help by keeping an eye out for pink flags that are engraved with a two-character code and are placed on the bird’s upper leg. If you see one of these banded Piping Plovers, please email information to BahamasPIPL@audubon.org. The following data is requested if possible:

  • date the bird was observed
  • specific location where the bird was observed
  • pink band code
  • latitude and longitude
  • any additional note-worthy information (such as other band colors and numbers)
  • photos are welcome

This project is a collaboration between National Audubon Society, Bahamas National Trust, Virginia Tech Shorebird Program, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Environment Canada. For more information visit http://www.audubon.org/news/pbs-newshour-zooms-piping-plover-efforts.

The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

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