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Beach Closures for Nesting Piping Plovers

Posted by Erin Lee on Saturday, March 4th, 2017 at 8:15am.

It's March, which means beach closures at portions of Cape Henlopen as endangered Piping Plover shore birds return to the area to begin their courtship and nesting rituals.


The Piping Plover is a small, squat bird with a white underside and a sandy colored top, with distinctive black bands around its neck and above its eyes. Listed as an endangered species, the Plover population at Henlopen has ranged from one nesting pair to ten, in recent years. Known to nest in three populations, one of these is along the Atlantic shoreline, of which Cape Henlopen seems to be a favored spot.

Dunes areas are the ideal location for laying their eggs and raising their young fledglings. However, visitors pose risks to these birds. Kites may be mistaken for threatening birds of prey who are attracted to the eggs, and dogs and children can easily frighten Plover parents causing them to abandon their nests for hours. Without protection, the eggs are at risk for baking in the hot sand, or being eaten by other birds and animals. Additionally, young Plover depend on their parents for regular feeding. When mom and dad leave, babies are deprived of food.

What can we do? Please respect the closures. By September, Piping Plover migrate south, not to return again until next spring. Please keep dogs on leashes when near the closure areas. Please also respect the drive-on beach closures. Although inconvenient, it's a life or death situation for well hidden nests and eggs of these endangered birds. 

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