du pluvier

Chaque été, le petit pluvier siffleur retourne au même site de nidification sur les plages et les dunes de sable des Maritimes. 

Avec seulement 2500 individus en tout, cette espèce menacée a grand besoin de la protection des humains et Roland Chiasson partage avec nous ses expériences en tant que gardien côtier avec le Projet pour la sauvegarde du Pluvier siffleur. 

Les gardiens patrouillent les plages, identifient les sites de nidification, installent des clôtures et sensibilisent le public à la condition critique de cet oiseau. Est-qu'on peut espérer? 
Oui, les taux de succès d'envol augmentent lorsque le pluvier reçoit un coup main de ses amis humains.


















(Jan 2001)

Mise a jour!

On Plover Patrol

Roland Chiasson
February 1998

wo people are moving down a seemingly deserted beach. It is the first week of June and the sun shines brightly, but a cold easterly wind makes it feel more like March. They are listening for sounds and scanning for movement. Finally, one of the figures raises a hand in warning. A sound has been heard. A small, pale bird scurries across the beach. A sense of relief follows; the Plovers have returned.

This bird's life is the beach! A peaceful beach in early March will be anything but quiet by June.

(Photo: Multi-Images)

Human visitors often overrun beaches with their four-wheelers, trucks and all-night parties. It might be said that this bird is crazy for coming faithfully back to a site like this to raise a family; but the Piping Plover are very traditional. They return year after year to the same beach, often to nest in the exact same spot. Here they will lay an average of 4 eggs per nest. However, if the nest is disturbed by humans or predators, the second nesting attempts usually only produce two to three eggs. They will continue returning to the same site until they die or are replaced. After all, this is their home.

The Piping Plover is a sparrow-sized beach bird that spends its summer in the coastal areas of the Maritimes. Its winters are spent along the U.S. southeastern seaboard, mainly Georgia and Florida, and on Cuba's northern coast. With only an approximate 2500 pairs left in North America, the Piping Plover is an endangered species that is near extinction due to human disturbance. Piping Plovers are found only on coastal beaches, sand flats and mud flats in Eastern Canada.

(Photo:Jim Brown)                                      

They are easily confused with their relatives, the more abundant Semipalmated Plover and (left) Killdeer.

Piping Plovers were first declared an endangered species in 1985. Since then, conservation programs have been initiated in most areas of their habitat. Conservation has been attempted through education, predator enclosures, controlled access to nesting sites and guardianship programs. Even with these measures, it still isn't easy being a Piping Plover. Their decline has been linked to the loss of other coastal species and the development and disturbance of our coastlines.

While Piping Plover numbers continue to fall, we may still turn things around. During the summer of 1997, the Piping Plovers on the Acadian Peninsula enjoyed a mixed season. One hundred and four individual Piping Plovers used the beaches. This is the lowest population count to date. Our highest count was in 1987, with 130 individuals.

This season, forty-nine pairs were followed all summer long, and their average fledging success rate was 1.7 young per pair. The good news is that this is the highest success rate we've had over the last 8 years. Success rates on beaches where coastal guardians were present was even higher at 2.2 on average. From seven beaches, eighty-four young left south in the late summer.

We have great hope for these birds, though there is much unknown about their winter habitat and survival. While we can boost fledgling success, for unknown reasons, fewer birds continue to return each year. New research projects, such as the possibility of banding, may provide us with some clues.

Who are we?
The Piper Project/Projet siffleur has been recognized as a special project of the New Brunswick Federation of Naturalists. On a local level, this project is an integral part of the activities of our regional naturalist's club: Le Club des naturalistes de la peninsule acadienne. "Piper" is a nickname for the Piping Plover and "siffleur" is part of the bird's French name: "Pluvier siffleur." This project was started as an non-profit, bilingual endeavour on the Acadian Peninsula in 1988. Our goal is to protect coastal ecosystems, especially Piping Plover habitat, and to educate the public about coastal ecosystem issues. We do this because we strongly believe that the decline of the Piping Plover is a warning sign that all of our coastal ecosystems are in trouble. We have made the Piping Plover our symbol, though we undertake many other projects not directly related to the Piping Plover.

What do we do for the Piping Plover?
This year, our second Coastal Guardian Project was implemented with financial help from Human Resources and Development Canada through their Youth Services Canada Program. This allowed us to install fences and post notices around nesting sites, while meeting with users of the various beaches. The idea of being a Guardian for the Piping Plover was taken from similar volunteer projects in Nova Scotia and the United States. This summer a total of 18 youth were on Plover Patrol. Their role, after more than four weeks of training, included school presentations and the gathering of valuable data about infractions to the provincial Trespass Act.

What can you do?
Become a coastal guardian for the Piping Plover and other coastal organisms. Find out about coastal areas near you. Are there Piping Plovers in your region? What other kinds of wildlife are there? Is their habitat threatened by vehicles or human activities? In New Brunswick it is against the law to drive over coastal habitats, so report off-road vehicle activities on beaches and salt marshes to the RCMP. To find out about joining Piping Plover counts call, write or e-mail us. You can also contact the Irving Nature Centre in Boutouche at 743-2600.

Piping Plovers have shown us the need to persist with conservation efforts. Over the years we have made gains in Piping Plover awareness, but what we really need is action. Actions that will protect sites from human disturbances and continued support for our coastal guardians. The Piping Plover is the key to protecting our coastal habitat for all who share this marvellous place.

... and so, the plover patrol continues with the hope that more Piping Plover will be found.

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