As temperatures rise and folks flock to Rhode Island’s shoreline to fish, surf, and swim, Jeff Hall of the the Audubon Society of Rhode Island reminds beach goers to be aware of and respect the nesting sites for the federally protected piping plover, the threatened least tern and other nesting shorebirds.
To protect these nesting sites and cause the least disturbance to these birds, people should stay at least 50 yards away from roped off, designated nesting areas.
Nick Earnst, wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Rhode Island Piping Plover Coordinator, says “Superstorm Sandy actually created more habitat for nesting Piping Plovers by washing away some of the vegetative buffer zones along the Rhode Island south coastline. We are seeing Piping Plovers nesting in areas they have never been before which is increasing the contact with beach goers. It’s great for these endangered birds, but people have to be more aware that they are nesting in these new areas.”
U.S. Fish and Wildlife monitors ten beaches in Rhode Island to protect nesting plovers. These include: Sandy Point, Napatree Point, East Beach, East Matunuck, Trustom, Ninigret Conservation area, Sachuest, Quonochontaug and the Charlestown Breachway.
Along with plovers, other species of shorebirds nest along the Rhode Island shoreline and rocky coast.
“You know you’ve entered a nesting area when large groups or individual birds vocalize loudly, dive-bomb your head, or feign injury to lead you away from their nests. If this happens, back away and share the beach so the birds can successfully rear their young,” said Kacy Ray, Beach-Nesting Bird Conservation Project Officer for the American Bird Conservancy.
US Fish and Wildlife Service photo