The piping plover is a small sand colored shorebird with orange legs. A black
band runs across the forehead from eye to eye and a single black ring encircles
the neck. On the ground, the piping plover blends into the background. While
flying, a bright white rump is visible.
The piping plover is classified as threatened throughout it's entire North
American range and as endangered in Maryland. About 60 pairs will arrive in late
March to breed on open, sandy beaches and dunes undisturbed by humans on
Assateague Island in Worcester county. Maryland piping plovers winter from North
Carolina to Florida, with some migrating to the Bahamas and West Indies.
Piping plovers eat marine worms, crustaceans, beetles, fly larvae, mollusks,
and other small marine animals and their eggs.
Five other kind of plovers live in Maryland. These are: black-bellied plover,
lesser golden plover, Wilson's plover, semipalmated plover and killdeer.
Piping plover populations have been reduced due to increased development and
recreational uses of beaches along the Atlantic coast. There are about 2000
breeding pairs in North America.
Piping plovers will extend one foot out into wet sand and vibrate it to scare
up food items.
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