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Nova Scotia Piping Plover Conservation Program

Program Overview

Every spring, Piping Plovers - sparrow-sized, endangered shorebirds - arrive at beaches across Atlantic Canada to breed. However, since 1991 the of number of breeding pairs of Piping Plovers returning to Nova Scotia's beaches has declined by 25%.  There are a number of serious threats facing Piping Plovers in Nova Scotia, including:

  • loss of beach nesting areas
  • increased predator pressures
  • storms and high tides
  • inappropriate coastal development, and
  • human recreation activities.

In April 2006, Bird Studies Canada initiated the Nova Scotia Piping Plover Conservation Program. Using population monitoring, habitat protection, and the dedication of volunteers and project partners, we aim to reverse the decline of Piping Plovers in Nova Scotia.

Monitoring & Protecting Piping Plovers

Bird Studies Canada staff and volunteers work closely with NS Department of Natural Resources, Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service, and Parks Canada to ensure that breeding plovers are monitored and well protected.  From April through August, our team monitors and protects breeding Piping Plovers on about two dozen beaches across Nova Scotia.  We conduct more intensive plover monitoring on the South Shore of Nova Scotia - the province's most concentrated plover breeding region. Regular nest checks determine numbers of eggs hatched and chicks fledged. We also protect habitat around nests from trampling using ?Do not Disturb? signs and rope. On beaches where there is a high risk of nest predation, we use nest exclosures to protect eggs. These fence structures allow plovers to walk in and out during incubation, but prevent predators from entering and eating the eggs.  Data collected during nest visits is used to inform beach management decision-makers and species recovery planners, and to increase public understanding. Read more.

Piping Plover Guardians: Stewards of our Beaches

The Piping Plover Guardian Project has a long history in Atlantic Canada.  Volunteer Guardians have played an active role in plover conservation for nearly twenty years. One of the project's past directors, Anna McCarron, recruited many volunteers and developed conservation partnerships across the province. In June 2006, Bird Studies Canada began directing the Guardian Project. 

Piping Plover Guardians work closely with biologists and play a critical role in the recovery of Piping Plovers. Guardians volunteer time to patrol beaches across Nova Scotia to assist with beach clean-ups, beach education, plover protection and data collection. Guardians spread the following key messages on how to minimize disturbance to breeding birds:

  • Keep clear of signs marking sensitive nesting areas;
  • Walk on the wet sand;
  • Keep pets leashed;
  • Take food and trash off the beach;
  • Do not drive off-road vehicles on beaches and dunes.

We need new Guardians! To join the program click here or contact us at

Read more on Piping Plover Guardians and stewardship.



This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada.
Ce projet a été réalisé avec l'appui financier du gouvernement du Canada.

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