Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Waterbirds 38(4): 321-329, 2015.


Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) are primarily monogamous birds that usually raise only one brood per season, but rare instances of double brooding have been documented. Piping Plovers breeding in the northern Great Plains, USA were studied in two locations: the Missouri River near the Gavins Point Dam (2005- 2013) and the lower Platte River (2008-2013). There were 25 confirmed instances of double brooding on the Missouri River across the 9-year duration of the study. There were no instances of double brooding observed locally on the lower Platte River. However, in 2013, two female Piping Plovers successfully hatched eggs and fledged chicks from nests on the lower Platte River and later were observed nesting for a second time on the Missouri River. Factors predicted to increase the frequency of double brooding are: early nest initiation, male biased sex ratio, age of breeding adults, and decreased nesting density. Our results indicate density is an important factor that accounts for some of the difference in the proportion of double brooding on the Missouri River compared to the lower Platte River. It is likely a combination of factors is responsible for this behavior, previously thought to be rare, in Piping Plovers.