1996 32¢ Piping Plover
Issue Date: October 2, 1996
City: San Diego, CA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Named for its distinctive “piping” call, the piping plover nests mostly on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and along the inland rivers of the Great Plains. A few families have also been found scattered among the Great Lakes. Migrating south, plovers winter along the Gulf coast from Florida to northern Mexico, as well as on the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to the West Indies.
Uncontrolled hunting during the early part of the century nearly led to the disappearance of these tiny birds. Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the plover recovered from its near extinction, only to fall prey to other harder-to-regulate threats: waterfront development and recreation. Roads and beachfront homes encroach upon the plover’s habitat, leaving few suitable areas for nesting. Visitors disturb the nests. And unleashed pets prey on the chicks, as do other predators attracted by garbage and litter, such as foxes, skunks, and rats.
To minimize nesting disturbance, conservationists have begun building fences, limiting recreation, enforcing leash laws, and removing garbage. These efforts appear successful along the Atlantic coast where the plover population is showing signs of recovery. However, the Great Plains population continues to decrease, and numbers along the Great Lakes are perilously low at just 20 pairs.