Nouvelles du pluvier siffleur dans le nord-est du Nouveau-

Dans son article, Roland Chiasson, du Projet Siffleur, parle du travail accompli durant l'été 2000. Il démontre les bienfaits prouvés de la mise en oeuvre du programme des garde-côtes et il aborde les difficultés continues qui confrontent le pluvier siffleur. 

Les tempêtes, les perturbations humaines, les prédateurs et la destruction de l'habitat sont quelques-unes des causes majeures des succès d'envol plutôt limités.

Roland ajoute :
"Ce sera longtemps, voire jamais, avant que le pluvier siffleur du Canada Atlantique n'ait plus besoin de notre aide."





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On Plover Patrol
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(photo: PiperProject/
Projet siffleur)













"... some of
our more
northern beaches
look more
Few if any
nests or
plover chicks
survive this
type of


Return from the Brink
Human Guardians Protect Nests of Endangered Plovers

  Roland Chiasson & Sabine Dietz
  Piper Project/Projet Siffleur
  October 2000


ince 1995, we have been hosting the Guardian Program in the Acadian Peninsula.  Our goal is to protect the nesting sites of the endangered Piping Plovers. 

(photo: Piper Project / Projet siffleur)

Up to 20 people, all employed through various programs such as the Coastal Guardian Program, watched over the piping plovers during the summer. Two of our youth continued into the fall to carry out educational programs in most of the Acadian Peninsula schools on the topic of endangered species of New Brunswick.

The Piping Plover is a sparrow-size shorebird that breeds on the sandy beaches of the Acadian Peninsula from mid-May to mid-August. In 1985 the species was designated as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).  

Counts from the 1991 and 1996 international Piping Plover censuses indicated a decline of approximately 17 % in the Atlantic Canada population, and of approximately 28% in the New Brunswick population.  In 1996, 423 adult birds were counted along the eastern Canadian shore. Almost 75% of the New Brunswick population of Piping Plovers occur in the Acadian Peninsula, making this an important breeding area for the species.

(photo: Piper Project / Projet siffleur)

Despite the early June storm that washed out quite a number of nests, and a cool summer, the plovers did okay. With 139 birds we are holding quite steady, and our staff can feel proud of our overall fledging success of 1.6 (which indicates a lot of effort!). The birds gave us some surprises this year, shifting a bit to the south on our off-shore dunes, and giving us a harder than usual time to try to figure out how many there really were, and where they were located. 

On one beach, one adult plover from a family was picked off by a Merlin, leaving the male to look after the four very young babies in an extremely busy area. Despite great efforts from our staff, only one young survived. This was not a very good example of how plovers and people can coexist, but it does show the importance of a Guardian presence in having a positive impact. We are convinced that, without our Guardians, no young would have survived at all. On a side note, this might also show the importance of having two adults look after newly hatched young. We had four chicks fledged from the same beach in 1999, with two adults looking out for the babies. This year we also might have had a problem with an injured gull, which was attracted by the garbage and people, and hung out all the time around the zone where the plovers were.

(photo: Piper Project / Projet siffleur)

Human disturbance in our region appears to be our major cause of poor fledging success. Predators take a few eggs and young on our beaches but have minimum impact. Our beaches are so wide and long, predators have a harder time finding nests and young than on other shorter and narrower beaches elsewhere in the Maritimes.

Education and the presence of Coastal Guardians is helping to the curve the human disturbance and vehicles on the beaches. Signs and symbolic fencing can avert disturbance to the birds, however, in some areas vehicles are still widely used (although an offence under the provincial Trespass Act) on the beaches, and sometimes people ignore the signs.  This summer two of our staff were almost driven over by All-terrain vehicles (ATVs), while some of our more northern beaches look more like racetracks . Few if any nests or plover chicks survive this type of pressure.
That said, our contact with the public was extensive and our partnerships extended to businesses and towns and in this, we have come a very long way in the last thirteen years. 

We strongly feel the Guardian program is the only really effective recovery method for this endangered bird. We should not kid ourselves: it will be a long time, if ever at all, before the Piping Plovers of Atlantic Canada will not need our help anymore. The graph below illustrates that since 1995 (when the Guardian Program began on the Acadian Peninsula) fledging success and population levels have increased.


It is not only that the Guardian Program is a very non-confrontational, educational, and effective approach (from a biological point of view), it also has spin-offs that none of us should neglect. From the creation of employment for youth, sensitization on various coastal zone issues, awareness raising about endangered species in general, to raising the awareness of governments, these are all direct spin-offs. 

For the future, we would like to see the Coastal Guardian Program continue, with its regional and local differences. We encourage everyone to not look at this program as 'just protecting a bird' but as an effort that reaches beyond the Piping Plover. It is an effort that touches the coastal zone in general, the values that we attach to our natural heritage and the species that share our earth with us.

(photo: Luther Goldman)

The Coastal Guardian Project is part of Natural Legacy 2000, a nationwide initiative to conserve wildlife and habitats on private and public lands. We are very fortunate that we receive sufficient funds, and that we have the co-operation from federal and provincial departments, which makes it possible for us to have Guardians on beaches. Without this support, our work would not have been possible.

The Piper Project/Projet siffleur 
can be contacted through 
Roland Chiasson
or Sabine Dietz
Box 8, Site 9, R.R. 2 Tabusintac, N.B.
E0C 2A0  Tel: 506-779-8304