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High Water In Great Lakes Spells Trouble For Endangered Bird

Piping Plovers Build Nests On Shorelines

piping plover
In this June 2006 file photo, a piping plover runs across the beach in Phippsburg, Maine. Pat Wellenbach/AP Photo

High water in the Great Lakes might spell trouble for the piping plover, an endangered bird that builds its nests on shorelines.

Water levels have surged in recent years as the lakes bounced back from record-setting lows.

Vincent Cavalieri, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said that means narrower beaches and less room for the plover.

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The most recent count last year turned up 67 breeding pairs of the sand-colored birds. That’s an improvement from the low point of 12 pairs in 1990, but a slight drop from 76 pairs two years ago.

Cavalieri said that when plovers nest farther from the water and closer to trees and bushes, they’re more vulnerable to predators such as skunks and raccoons.

Other beach-nesting species such as terns could be affected as well.