ENDANGERED PIPING PLOVERS

by Editor on August 23, 2009

The Piping Plover Returns to Illinois. Photo:Mdf

The Piping Plover Returns (Briefly) to Illinois. Photo:Mdf

The endangered Great Lakes (US) population of piping plovers gets a boost with some welcome Illinois nestlings . . . while on the other side of the world, scientists report the discovery of over 100 new animal species including a “flying” frog in the eastern Himalayas.

Top 10 Endangered Species News

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a pair of piping plovers built a nest and tended four eggs this summer on a remote stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline in northern Illinois. It was the first piping plover nest found in Illinois since 1979.

The Great Lakes population of piping plovers—a sandpiper-like bird that lives and nests along the shore—is listed as “endangered” under the federal Endangered Species Act. The bird’s Atlantic coast population is listed as “threatened.”

Three of the Illinois eggs were hatched in incubators at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago after the adults abandoned the nest for unknown reasons. The chicks were reared at the University of Michigan Biological Station at Pellston before being released earlier this month at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Northern Michigan. Officials said the birds were not taken back to Illinois because they would not have had a chance to intermingle with others of their species there.

The nest was discovered through periodic surveys conducted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The breeding pair of plovers was found by IDNR Wildlife Biologist Scott Garrow, who said, “finding the breeding pair of piping plovers in Illinois is one of the true highlights of my 30-year career.”

Piping plovers nest along some of the most popular beaches in the Great Lakes and have been making a slow recovery. The US Fish and Wildlife Service reports a total of more than 70 breeding pairs in the Great Lakes this season, the largest pair total since listing.

Meanwhile, Back in the Himalayas . . .

Once in a while we get a reminder that there are still plenty of discoveries remaining to be made in the world of wildlife. For instance, researchers working on the eastern slopes of the Himalayan mountains have reported finding over 100 new animal species, including a “flying” frog—it actually glides rather than flies using its webbed feet as wings—along with the world’s smallest deer (it weighs 11 pounds) and a brand-new monkey.

The eastern Himalayas—a vast region encompassing Bhutan and northeastern India as well as the far north of Myanmar (Burma) along with Nepal and southern Tibet—also serve as habitat for a trove of well-known endangered species such as the snow leopard, Bengal tigers, Asian elephants, red pandas, takins, golden langurs, rare Ganges dolphins and one-horned rhinos.

You can read a bit more about these discoveries at the World Wildlife Fund website. —P.G.

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