Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)
Piping Plovers depend on mudflats, like the ones pictured here, for foraging. They search through these "mini tide pools" for small marine worms and crustaceans. Their survival depends on undisturbed sea-wall and turf grass-free stretches of beach along the Atlantic coast. Piping Plovers, once common, nearly became extinct in the 19th century. Populations have recovered relatively well in some areas, and there are estimated to be about 16, 0002 nesting pairs along the Atlantic Seaboard. They escape the cold and harsh conditions of the New England winter by leaving once fall sets in and their young have fledged to spend the rest of the year in the tropics (mainly the Bahamas and the West Indies). Like most populous coastal counties in Florida, over ninety-eight percent of coastal Pinellas is no longer suitable for a host of other rare species. Shorebirds such as the Wilson’s Plover, Black Skimmer, and the Least Tern are also in jeopardy. Losing critical resting and refueling areas in Florida have made the trip much longer for many types of migrating shorebirds and songbirds bound for the tropics—thus the necessity for concrete-free stretches of the beach throughout Florida.