Another piping plover on Park Point beach
For the second time in as many years an endangered piping plover has shown up on Duluth's Park Point beach, lending hope that the little shorebird might nest on Minnesota's side of Lake Superior for the first time in decades.
The bird was spotted north of the Park Point Beach House, toward the city, and officials for the St. Louis River Alliance are keeping track of the bird and asking people to stay away.
Volunteer plover watchers confirmed the bird Saturday and are working to keep passersby and their pets off that section of beach. It's feared that if the bird is chased off the beach it might not return.
According to the St. Louis River Alliance, which is a partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in trying to attract and keep plovers in the Twin Ports, the bird on Park Point "is a female from North Manitou Island in Lake Michigan" that was spotted again Sunday morning.
"The sighting of a female is extra special for the Great Lakes population! Our hope is that she will pair up with a male and select a location for a nest," the Alliance noted in announcing the sighting.
Sarah Glesner, who heads the Aliance's plover project, said the female was seen again this morning but was scared off the beach by an unleashed dog.
There hasn't been a nesting pair of piping plovers in the Twin Ports, or anywhere along Minnesota's portion of Lake Superior, since the 1980s. The nearest breeding pairs are found in the Apostle Islands where Wisconsin's only colony is located on Long Island with about 20 birds.
The Alliance has been working for several years to restore piping plover habitat in the Twin Ports. The goal is to improve nesting conditions so if a male and female make it here at the same time, they might decide to stay. That effort has included cutting trees, clearing debris and driftwood off the beach and erecting fencing to keep predators, dogs and people away from any nest.
The confirmed Duluth plover sighting comes one year from the last Twin Ports plover visit, when a male and female were sited on Park Point for a few days. They left the area, however, and were not seen again after May 21, with no sign of mating or nesting behavior.
Anyone walking on the Park Point beach is asked to watch for signs identifying where the plover was seen and stay out of the area. It's especially important to keep dogs on a leash. The Alliance is asking that people not try to see or photograph the bird for fear they'll scare it away.