Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



“Observations of Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) Color Banded in Nebraska and Re-sighted on the United States Gulf Coast” from Nebraska Bird Review (March 2010) 78(1).


Copyright 2010 Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union. Used by permission.


Threatened and endangered migratory birds present a challenge to conservation efforts because they use different habitats during different times of the year. As a result, successful efforts in one part of their range may be nullified by negative events taking place in other parts of their range. In many cases, information that links individual birds or populations to specific breeding, non-breeding, and migratory areas across the species' range is not available. Without these links, it can be difficult to coordinate conservation efforts across the species' range, and species recovery efforts may be less effective. The observation of uniquely marked individuals can be useful in linking different regions and habitats used throughout a species' annual cycle. As part of our efforts to monitor and protect Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) in Nebraska, we initiated a research and banding program in 2008. Here we describe the color banding scheme we are using along the lower Platte River and report re-sightings of color banded plovers from non-breeding areas along the United States Gulf Coast.

In the United States, the Great Plains population of Piping Plovers is federally listed as threatened. In Nebraska, the Piping Plover is listed as a state threatened species. The authority for this listing status is provided by the Nebraska Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act (Nebraska Revised Statutes §§37: 801–811). Historically, Piping Plover numbers declined as a result of unregulated hunting (Bent 1927), but the principal reason for the current decline is the continuing loss of breeding habitat due to human activity (USFWS 1988, 2009, Elliott-Smith and Haig 2004, In addition to the loss of breeding habitat, Piping Plovers in the Great Plains are threatened by wild, feral, and pet animal predation; water pollution; hydro-peaking; shoreline stabilization and bank armoring; loss of river sandbars; and the consequences of water management decisions (Elliott-Smith and Haig 2004,, Efforts by state and federal agencies and NGOs are underway to help plover populations recover across their range.